Most of the brick kilns in Kashmir have started manufacturing of bricks with the arrival of migrant labourers in the Valley.
The brick prices have escalated in the Valley due to fall in the production. In this backdrop, most of the migrant labourers have been transported from Jammu where they were working till onset of monsoon.
The J&K administration has worked out a comprehensive plan-of-action for transportation of migrant labourers from neighbouring
states viz. UP, Punjab, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, etc. local news agency KNS said.
"There are set guidelines/SOPs in place regarding transportation of labourers from outside states and those are followed strictly," Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole told KNS.
"We allow around 2,000 labourers on daily basis to enter J&K through Lakhanpur. It will surely boost the developmental activities in the division and rates of bricks will slash down comprehensively. The buses from other states are not allowed to enter J&K, rather JKSRTC is providing/hiring buses from local transporters for transportation of labourers from Lakhanpur to the brick kiln sites," Pole said.
Answering a query, he said that the sampling/testing of each and every labourer is done at the toll post Lower Munda and not a single labourer is allowed to enter Kashmir without testing.
He said that the labourers are then quarantined at their respective brick kiln sites for three days or until the test comes negative.
"Bricks are essential for developmental activities especially building and housing projects, and we want to promote these developmental activities in public as well as in private sectors," the Divisional Commissioner said.
Deputy Commissioner Anantnag K K Sidha, who is monitoring the sampling process in Lower Munda, said that all the covid-19 test reports of migrant labourers until 16 July have been received and only 11 of them were positive, who have been shifted to isolation centres.
"People need not to worry, as we are fully aware of the situation. Out of thousands of labourers, 11 turning to be positive should not panic Kashmiris, as some are hell bent to create," DC Anantnag said.
He said: "Every day we receive 60-70 buses and collect more than 2500 samples. Yesterday we sampled more than 2800 labourers in a single day".
While answering a question, he said "today we have seized three buses at Lower Munda which were not part of the list shared by the Labour Commissioner. We have fined the brick kiln owner and also we have taken samples of these labourers for testing, and we are looking into the provision of collection of the costs from the brick kiln owner, so that it will be a case of deterrent for others. The buses were coming from Jammu".
CMO Kulgam, who is monitoring the sampling/testing process at Lower Munda said that there are at least 15 stalls in place at Lower Munda, for around 2000 labourers (on daily basis) who come here from neighbouring states to start the developmental and other activities in the division.
He said that around eleven thousand samples have been collected till Sunday evening.
According to set guidelines/SOPs, the brick kiln owners have to provide the lists of labourers, with all the details in a prescribed format to the respective Assistant Labour Commissioners.
The Assistant Labour Commissioners have to forward the list to the Labour Commissioner J&K, who in turn has to prepare at daily list of around 2000 labourers and forward it to the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir/Jammu, Nodal Officer in-charge Lakhanpur and District Magistrates Kathua and Anantnag.
The movement of labourers is being regulated by Labour Department in coordination with Divisional Commissioner's office Jammu.
The owner of a brick kiln is responsible to facilitate the movement of labourers from source state to Lakhanpur on his own expense, after following the necessary SOPs, and from Lakhanpur, the incharge Nodal Officer, in coordination with Labour Commissioner J&K, will regulate the inward movement of the labourers.
JKSRTC is responsible for arranging the buses for transportation of these labourers and the costs are being borne by brick kiln owners.
Taking into account the security issues, the inbound movement from Jawahar Tunnel is allowed between 6:00 am to 5 pm. To avoid rush at sampling site at Lower Munda, the labourers from Banihal are allowed in batches of 10 buses each, with a time interval of 15 to 20 minutes between the two.
Taking into account the large number of vehicles, around 70, on daily basis, sufficient number of police escort is provided from Jawahar Tunnel to brick kiln sites, under the supervision of IG Kashmir.
IG Police (traffic), J&K, is responsible for coordination of movement from Kathua to Valley and SSP Rural Kashmir has to deploy sufficient manpower from Jawahar Tunnel to brick kiln sites for smooth movement of labourers.
All the arrangements for labour vis-a-vis boarding, lodging, hand washing, sanitization, providing facemask, etc. shall be made by brick kiln owners during the period of stay at brick kiln.
Also divisional-level and district-level coordination teams have been framed for hassle-free inward movement of migrant labourers.