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Thursday, May 07, 2020

COVID-19 Diaries - Day 44 of Lockdown

CONTINUED FROM - COVID-19 Diaries - Day 34 of Lockdown



Migrant Workers

7 May 2020


On Labour day (1st May), another extension to the lockdown was announced; for another two weeks (Upto May17th). However, Government has decided to arrange transport for migrant workers. Many labourers from Odisha, Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh work in the South of India and other major cities in the country. They have been pleading the Government to let them return back to their families. 

Free buses are arranged for those who want to travel within the state. Shramik Special trains are also being arranged for migrant workers who want to travel to other states. The newspaper carried articles about these special trains but had no information on how migrant workers can avail this facility. Such is the state of journalism these days. I made sure to write a letter to the newspaper editor complaining about poor quality of reporting. If an article is only intended to inform us what happened and does not help us take action, it is useless. 

I informed Sugreev about the trains and asked him to try calling some helplines. He was directed to couple of numbers and finally was recommended to register for a travel on Seva Sindhu app or website. How can Government expect migrant workers to have smart phones or laptops to make such entries? This seemed utterly foolish. 

I then made their respective entries and submitted their travel request. Each one had to give their current address and destination, upload their Aadhar card and passport size photo before submitting the form. Sugreev wanted me to submit forms for two of his friends as well, therefore, in total, 7 forms were submitted, requesting for travel to UP and Bihar. I watched this on report by Ravish Kumar (The only sensible journalist we have today) that those workers who did not have access to Internet had to go to police stations where they were mistreated.

Thankfully, this extension has allowed all independent shops to open. I took advantage of the lockdown and went for a jog on the main road. Flyovers have been turned into jogging tracks. 

Indian Government has allowed operation of liquor shops for generating revenue. There were long queues in front of liquor shops around the country. And obviously there was chaos. All the Government needs now, is revenue!  

For Sugreev and his friends, the work at the construction site has resumed. Therefore they are able to focus on their work. They have to wake up early, cook their lunch before 8 AM and then work until 6 PM. Then, they cook their dinner. Remember, they have no refrigerator to store food during this summer. I prayed that the application would be accepted and that they can travel home soon. 

On the 6th of March Karnataka Government decided to stop all Shramik special trains to other states. Post a discussion with builders, it was decided that migrant workers would stay back to revive economy. Many who traveled to the railway station on the 6th of May, hoping to travel to their villages in the north of India, were turned back. Such a pathetic situation it is here. It is disgusting to say the least! 

For the Government of Karnataka, migrant workers are not humans, they are machines that run the economy. Those who build thousands of houses for us are denied permission to return back to their own homes. On the other hand, labourers from the state of Karnataka can return back to their villages on free KSRTC buses. Because, they are not machines, they are vote bank!

CONTINUED HERE - COVID-19 Diaries - Day 48 of Lockdown

4 comments:

  1. This sounds like bonded labor. Whether to stay and work or go home should be their choice and not Government's decision. What if all these laborers refuse to work and insist on going home?

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  2. I couldn't agree more!

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  3. This the first time I am coming to your blog. Landed here via SG's blog.
    The problem of migrants, which you have highlighted here very aptly, is quite tragic.
    Everyone has been hit by the uncertainty, but they are the ones who have been hit the hardest.
    All governments and welfare organisations like NGOs are all doing their best, but the challenge is so big that even the well-intentioned actions don't work perfectly in this chaotic situation.
    I just hope the hardship of people end soon.

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  4. Welcome to my blog Pradeep!

    ReplyDelete

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