Lockdown scare: Unable to survive in Pune, Mumbai, migrant workers start packing bags
The rising COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, combined with stringent restrictions, bring back grim memories from last year of thousands of migrant labourers struggling to return to their home.
Pune: Kishor Srivasatava, a native of Lucknow, was in a hurry and worried to board the train to his hometown from Pune Railway Station. "During normal days, the garment shop where I worked was running smoothly even after last year. Now, due latest rules of the government, all shops are closed till April 30. Therefore, our owner shut the shop. Then what to do here for almost 24 days," Kishor asks.
Kishor is one of the hundred migrant workers who are seen returning to their hometown after Maharashtra imposed a mini-lockdown to curtail the further spread of COVID-19.
Maximum of migrant workers come to Pune, Mumbai for livelihood. For the next few days, railway stations in Pune, Mumbai, can witness an increasing number of passengers travelling to their hometowns. Several are witnessed travelling to Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Manoj Jhawar, Pune Railway Division Spokesperson, said, "There is considerable amount of rise in the number of daily commuters travelling via different trains starting from Pune. Trains travelling to Lucknow, Jhelum, Patna, Danapur are running at 100 per cent occupancy."
The rising cases of novel coronavirus in Maharashtra, combined with stringent restrictions, bring back grim memories from last year of thousands of migrant labourers struggling to return to their home.
More than the fear of the infection, it is the fear of not being able to earn is what's running in the minds of these workers.
Another migrant worker from Bihar said, "I didn't want to undergo the same situation like last year. Even if I recall that time, my tears roll out. This time, though government is ruling out the possibility of complete lockdown the resurgence of COVID has led to a kind of mini lockdown and the pandemic is even more serious. Thus, I have decided to return before the situation goes beyond control."
Despite a rise in new cases, an exodus of 2020 is considered improbable -- because many of the migrants who left Pune, Mumbai last year are said to have not returned yet. Those who have, meanwhile, are reeling themselves for what they think will be a battle for survival.
Meanwhile, Hasan Mushrif Maharashtra's Labour Minister -- on Wednesday -- urged migrant labourers to refrain from leaving and assured them the state government had no plans of a complete lockdown.
The state government's recent mission -- Break The Chain -- which saw a mini lockdown to control rising COVID-19 cases, had prompted many workers to return to their hometown over fears that they would be left without any source of income.
Hasan Mushrif, after taking charge of the ministry, said, "There have been a few instances where migrant labourers have left the state. I urge them not to do so and fall prey to rumours."
Maharashtra on Wednesday recorded the highest daily count of 59,907 COVID-19 new cases, taking the total to 31,73,261