The Centre has said that there is no data available or maintained on migrant deaths, thus, the "question does not arise" of compensation.
The labour ministry informed the Parliament in a written reply on Monday that the government does not have any data on the number of migrant labourers who lost their lives during the 68-day countrywide lockdown enforced from March 25 to stem the further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ministry's response came to a question raised in the Lok Sabha seeking information on whether the Centre had compensated or provided any economic assistance to the families of the (migrant) workers who lost their lives while trying to reach their native places amid the coronavirus lockdown.
"No such data is maintained. Question does not arise in view of the above," Union labour minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar informed Lok Sabha in a written reply.
The government's rejoinder on the first day of Parliament's monsoon session set off sharp anger and criticism from the opposition who was ready to corner it on a host of issues ranging from the ongoing India-China standoff in Ladakh to handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn.
Meanwhile, the Centre acknowledged that over 1 crore migrant workers made their way back to their native states from across the country.
In the monsoon session of Parliament, the first since the nationwide lockdown was imposed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry was asked a number of questions concerning the migrants.
Following the startling comment by the government, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked it stating that the Centre "does not know how many migrant labourers died and how many jobs were lost during the lockdown. If you haven't counted, has the deaths not taken place?"
Taking to Twitter, he further stated, "it is sad that there has been no impact on the government. The world has seen their deaths. There is a Modi government which has no information."
Expressing shock over the labour ministry's statement, Congress's Digvijaya Singh also said that "sometimes I feel we are blind or the government feels that it can take everyone for granted."
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