Migrant Workers

Project Awaaz – A Targeted Intervention Programme to Reduce the HIV Vulnerability of Migrant Workers in Delhi

The migration of large numbers of people from rural to urban areas has caused the unplanned and explosive growth of cities in India. A significant number of migrant workers in Delhi, India’s capital, depend on cycle rickshaw pulling to support their families back in their villages. Many of these migrant workers take up rickshaw pulling as a quick way to earn some money while they are in the city. An estimated 2 million cycle rickshaws ply the roads in India. The exact number may be far greater as there are no reliable records available, but the cycle rickshaw industry provides instant employment to unskilled migrants in urban and semi-urban areas.

Research shows that about 90 percent of Delhi’s rickshaw pullers come from Uttar Pradesh and the state immediately east of that (Bihar). The study further pointed out that most rickshaw pullers in Delhi are seasonal migrants who take up rickshaw pulling for few months and return to their native villages during the peak agricultural season. More than 64 percent of rickshaw pullers stay in Delhi for less than a year, while around 27 percent stay throughout the year.

The cycle rickshaw was introduced in Delhi in 1940 and soon became very popular as a cheap mode of public transportation. By 1975, the number of licensed cycle rickshaws in Delhi swelled to 20,000 and by the year 2006 their numbers had multiplied to several hundred thousand. As of now, an estimated 600,000 cycle rickshaws ply the roads of Delhi and provide direct employment opportunities to more than a million migrant workers.

In Delhi, the cycle rickshaw has gradually emerged as an indispensable mode of public transport and the cheapest way to commute short distances.

Most of the rickshaw pullers live without their families. A large number tend to engage in risky sexual behavior and indulge in alcohol and drug abuse, resulting in an increase in their vulnerability to contracting sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases.

Initiated: January 2011

Location: New Delhi

Project Description: Upon recognising the challenges faced by migrant rickshaw pullers in Delhi through Maitri’s work in Project Awaaz and acknowledging that a large number migrate from Jharkhand and specially from tribal areas, Maitri initiated Project Adhikar in Ranchi. This project provides the same benefits to Rickshaw Pullers in the Ranchi Municipal Corporation. The extremely poor living and working conditions and chronic stress inherent in the job, leave Rickshaw Pullers more inclined to use alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms. There is also a much higher likelihood of risky sexual behavior. To create awareness, educate them about their rights, and promote healthier lifestyles , Maitri has engaged with migrant rickshaw pullers in Ranchi to obtain Unique Identification Cards, Voter Cards, and other documents necessary for accessing benefits from Government programmes. By facilitating Rickshaw Pullers’ access to proper documentation, Maitri is ensuring that Rickshaw Pullers receive quality Health Care. Maitri holds enrolment camps in Rickshaw garages as well as frequent Health Camps in intervention areas.

Project Impact :
1. 28,387 Migrant Workers registered by Maitri for Government and Public Welfare programmes;
2. 4,500 Rickshaw Pullers enrolled in Voter ID Cards;
3. 2,029 individuals tested for HIV;
4. Of the 2,029 patients tested, 49 were found positive
5. 27 were provided Anti-Retroviral Treatment;
6. 29,355 individuals have been counselled