Story of a migrant laborer who almost spent a month-salary on returning to Bihar from Kerala
Other than the economy of India, if coronavirus has a bigger impact on anyone, they are the migrant workers, especially the daily wage workers. We have seen thousands of people going back to their hometown on foot, via bicycle, rickshaw, and via other uncomfortable means of transport. While more than 100 migrants died, some by accident, some by hunger, some by tiredness and heat, several migrants were able to reach their home.
The Solicitor General informed the Supreme Court that 97 lakhs migrants have been transported back to home. The Chief Labour Commissioner put the figure last week that about 26 lakh migrants are stranded across the country. 43 percent on worksites, 10 percent in relief camps, and 46 percent in other clusters.
UP has said that about 21.69 lakh laborers have returned, Bihar said 10 lakh. UP has said t 1.35 lakh laborers have left the state, Maharashtra said 11 lakh, Gujrat said 20.5 lakh and Karnataka said 3 lakh.
A Painful story of Satto Sahni to reach home in his own words
We spoke to one of the laborers who recently returned home after many hardships along with his three more friends. All the four hailing from Mahnar, Bihar used to work in Thrissur, Kerala. Satto Sahni said “After the lockdown, there was no work. We had some savings which we used for a few days. The Kerala government provided food for the first 10-15 days for free but later they started charging Rs 30 for one-time food. We couldn’t afford that and even the taste of food was not good, they used to give Sambhar which we didn’t like. After a month or so, we started getting some work as the coronavirus situation in Kerala came under some control. But the money was not enough so we decided to come back. We tried to contact the Nodal Officer, Panchayat, and police station to send us back home on the Shramik Special train but they kept ignoring us saying that, ‘there are so many people,’ came after 10 days or 15 days for multiple occasions.”
Bus conductor: Won’t return the money, sit in an over-crowded Bus or don’t go
“Finally when the government allowed the trains to operate from June 1, we booked the ticket which cost Rs 3800 each to reach Delhi first as there was no direct train to Bihar. From there we went to Anand Vihar station to catch a Bus. The Bus conductor asked for Rs 3000 each from Anand Vihar to Patna for a sleeper seat. Although we packed some food for our journey but later ran out of it. We survived on biscuits and other packaged foods. When the bus came we saw that the bus was overcrowded there was no social distancing. In a sleeper berth where two people are normally seated, four were forced to sit. When we said that we won’t go like this, give back our money, they denied. They were supposed to take us to Patna instead they took us to Muzzafarpur which is about 70 kilometers away from Patna. From there we took a Bus to Jadua, Hajipur, and then took a private auto directly to the home. It cost us more than Rs 8,000, 4 days and lots of inconveniences to reach home. The journey was painful as the bus was over-crowded, we were suffocating and there was lots of heat inside. Now we are going to stay here at home for a long time until the coronavirus eradicates fully.”
Satto Sahni, 29 is a resident of Hasanpur village, situated along the coast of the river Ganga near the border of Vaishali and Samastipur district in Mahnar, Bihar. He used to work earlier in New Delhi but then shifted to Kerala as a contractor offered him more money there.
Now the biggest question arises, will other laborers like Satto Sahni also not return to their workplace until the Coronavirus scare is over. If this is the case, then factories, agricultural works in various states are going to be affected. Another concern which discomforts us is that, will they be able to find work at home now.
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