In the wake of the coronavirus lockdown, lakhs of migrant workers have been struggling to reach their hometowns, with some resorting to walking all the way home. Amid this crisis, Pappan Singh, a mushroom farmer from Tigipur village in Delhi, spent Rs 68,000 on flight tickets to send 10 of his labourers - migrants from Bihar - back home.
"My workers are like my family. They are all very old employees and have been working at my farm for several years with their families away in the villages. The migrants in Delhi and other parts of the country have been returning to their villages in inhuman conditions. I did not want my workers to face the same challenges," Singh told The Times Of India.
"I read so many reports of accidents on the highway. It disturbed me. My workers deserve respect, could not have allowed to let them go like this," he added.
Their flight to Patna is at 6 am on Thursday from the Delhi airport. They have all been screened for COVID-19 and carry medical certificates required for travel.
"I never imagined in my life I will be travelling on a plane. I don't have words to express my happiness. But I am also nervous about what I have to do when we reach the airport tomorrow," Lakhwinder Ram, who has worked with Pappan Singh for over two decades, was quoted by NDTV. He is travelling with his son and this is his first flight.
While the workers had registered on the Shramik special trains to go home, they did not get a response. But, as a brutal heatwave gripped parts of north India, Singh decided to send his employees home by air.
The farmer also arranged a bus to take the migrant workers from the airport in Patna to their village in Saharsa district, with the help of municipal councillor, Suneet Chauhan.Also Read: Gurugram Teenagers Clean Cars To Raise Funds To Help The Underprivileged Amid COVID-19 Lockdown