Labourers in a brick kiln
Representational Image

PULWAMA — Amid COVID-19 pandemic situation and subsequent lockdown, locals of Pulwama district in south Kashmir have accused the Divisional Administration and the local Labour Department of having double standards while dealing with the migrant labour issue.

The locals are opposed to the idea of asking brick kiln owners to submit their labour requirement on the one hand while evacuating the migrant labourers to their home States on the other.

While raising their objections against the government order, locals said that on one hand, the government is pulling out the labour force, which is already in the Valley while on the other, the labour department is asking brick kiln owners to submit the labour requirement to import fresh labour from outside the State.

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“What is the fun of evacuating the labour force, which is already here and instead importing a fresh labour force from outside,” said a kiln owner.

“Not only is it a futile exercise and wastage of time, but alongside affecting our operations, it will increase the risk of the spread of the disease,” he said.

Another kiln owner said, “How it is safe to bring in thousands of non-locals to the Valley, when already COVID-19 is spreading fast here and taking a toll.”

“With the arrival of a fresh labour force, the risk is likely to increase manyfold, as no one will be sure about them being free from the infection, which can prove disastrous,” he said.

“By doing so, the Government is putting thousands of Kashmiri lives at risk and therefore the idea of importing a fresh labour force should be shelved forthwith,” he added.

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Pertinently, while Labour Department has asked the registered kiln owners, also having General Sales Tax (GST) registration to submit their labour requirement, there are dozens of kilns working in the district without registration, who are likely to import labour force, through other means, adding to the increase in the risk of spread of the disease.

Locals are, therefore, opposed to the idea of evacuating the labourers who are already in the Valley as they feel that the risk of carrying the virus with them is very less as compared to those who will be imported afresh from outside.

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