Panaji: Nearly 80,000 migrant labourers, mostly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have registered themselves with the Goa government to return to their native places, according to official figures.
However, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has urged them to stay back as the coastal state will require manpower for the economic revival once the lockdown is lifted.
As part of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines, the Sawant government has set up counters at the collectorates of North Goa and South Goa districts, municipalities and gram panchayat offices where migrant workers can register themselves to go back home.
Till Monday, 80,000 migrant labourers registered themselves at these offices, as per the state government statistics.
"Goa will require manpower. I appeal to them not to go back to their states. They can stay back here as Goa is safe from COVID-19 infection, Sawant told reporters on Monday. After the Centre's decision to classify Goa as a green zone, the Sawant-led government has set in motion the process of economic revival of the state.
The majority of the economic activities have resumed while following physical distancing norms, compulsory wearing of masks and reduced workforce.
Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar said the exodus of migrant workers will have an impact on construction, fishing, industrial units and others, but this is an unavoidable situation.
"They (labourers) dont want to stay back. This is the right time for the government to map how much labour force we really require in the state, he said. Goa-based labour union leader Puti Gaonkar said if the migrant workers leave the state, it could be an opening of employment opportunities for locals.
"There are enough young people in Goa who can do different jobs. I dont think there would be much impact if the migrant labourers leave the state, he said. Gaonkar said several industries were employing people without respecting the minimum wages rule, but now they will have to hire people by paying proper salaries.