As the second wave of COVID-19 tightens its grip over the country, India witnesses another exodus of migrant labourers from the big cities.
Many cities have already imposed night curfews, lockdowns and other restrictions to tackle the second wave. This has caused panic among the workers about losing jobs, lack of money and transport like last year, where thousands of migrant workers walked back to their villages during the lockdown.
Jharkhand particularly has seen a huge exodus of migrant workers in the past few days. Hundreds of migrants are returning to Ranchi from states like Delhi, Maharashtra, Telangana and Punjab on a daily basis. Govind Kumar is a native of the Giridih district of Jharkhand and has been working at a coffee shop in Mumbai for almost 5 years, reported The Times of India.
On Tuesday, Govind had to spend a good part of his salary for buying air tickets to his state. "Night curfews are in place till April 30, so my employer asked me to go home. He said he will summon me once the situation eases," said Govind after arriving at Ranchi's Birsa Munda International Airport.
Anil Kumar Mahto is another migrant who returned to Ranchi from Bengaluru where he had been working as a carpenter in a furniture store. His employer had issued marching orders under similar circumstances, "After sitting at home for months, I returned to work just before Diwali. Now my job has become uncertain again," said Mahto.
Odisha's Ganjam district also sees a rerun of the exodus of migrant workers. The trains coming to Odisha from Mumbai and Surat were seen to be full. In Surat, at least four Odia workers fell victim to the virus and died.
The vice president of Odia Welfare Association, Bhagirathi Behera, therefore, said, "Odia people living in Surat are in panic after the deaths of some of their people. They are keen to return to their native places amid fear of another lockdown. However, those who have left the town had booked their tickets earlier." The district administration of Ganjam has also acknowledged the reverse migration of the workers.
Some workers from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana and Odisha also headed to their native places in view of the New Year festivals in their respective states. This reverse migration may critically impact the Medium and small industries and cause negative effects on the economy of the country.