At least 50 migrants from Uttar Pradesh working on the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar metrorail project here are restive and waiting to go home. The project is being executed by the Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation, a 50-50 joint venture between the Centre and the Gujarat government.
“Everyone knows the situation of the disease in Ahmedabad. How can we even think of working in such a situation? We all want to go back to our homes,” said Azim Raza (28), a migrant worker from UP. He is one of the 350-odd migrant workers living in the Thaltej labour colony of the Tata Projects Ltd which is one of the firms constructing the East-West corridor of the metrorail in Ahmedabad.
“We do not want to get stuck in this city if the lockdown gets further extended. We had submitted our names at the police station in Thaltej and the police are not allowing us to leave. For the last couple of weeks, they have been asking us to wait for our turn. If no decision is taken in a day or two then we will have to stop depending on the government and think of other means to return home,” he said.
Of the 7,400-odd Covid-19 positive cases in Gujarat, Ahmedabad has the maximum of 5,200 cases and is one of those hotspots in the state where a strict lockdown was imposed since Thursday prohibiting all shops except those for milk and medicines to open.
Asif Khan (20), who works as a welder on the metro project, is equally desperate to return home in Uttar Pradesh. “The work has not started since it stopped when lockdown was announced. I have not met my father and mother for the last 8-10 months and they are getting worried about my safety in Ahmedabad,” Khan said.
An official from Tata Projects said the company had been paying the labourers regularly and housed 350 migrants who are mostly from UP, Bihar and Jharkand in the labour colony. “We are not stopping anyone from leaving. Till the time, their turn to ride the Shramik train comes, we have asked them to restrict themselves to the colony,” the official said.
On Saturday, the state government said 45 per cent of the total 327 Shramik trains that have run in the country till 4 pm on Friday, originated in Gujarat.
“Compared to the 144 trains run in Gujarat, Maharashtra has been able to operate only 40 trains, while Punjab operated 37 trains… Compared to others states, Gujarat has made excellent arrangements for migrants to return homes,” said Ashwani Kumar, secretary to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
He said 40 trains would leave Gujarat on Saturday which will take the total number of migrants transported by Shramik trains to over 2 lakh since May 2. According to Kumar, the instances of migrant workers hitting the streets were not because of the state government’s mismanagement. “The migrants did not wait for their chance and came on the roads to protest,” said Kumar while telling the migrants that the state government will continue to run Shramik trains till the migrants need to return home.
(With inputs from Pallavi Singhal in Chandigarh)
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