Twenty-three-year-old Rakesh Kumar, a native of Muzaffarpur in Bihar, is hungry. It was on March 19 that he last went to work at an upcoming high-rise project, and for the past one week, he has been surviving on a minimal ration and no money.
He lives with 50 other workers on the ground floor of an under-construction building of Sahajanand Group in Science city area of Ahmedabad.
Worried as to how he will survive the remaining days of joblessness, Kumar is desperate to go back home. He uses a basic mobile phone and gives “missed calls” to his family in Bihar whenever he needs to speak with them. Missed calls are for his family members to call him back lest he spends the ‘balance’ in his phone.
It was only four months ago that Kumar had arrived in Ahmedabad after a builders’ group offered him and his friends a lucrative salary of Rs 12,000 per month.
“I am desperate to go back home. Who wants to stay in a city without any work? But I cannot as all means of public transport are shut and my friends are also not willing to travel with me and I have no money to do it on my own,” said Kumar.
Amid the ongoing lockdown in the country amid Coronavirus outbreak, thousands of migrant daily wage labourers are stuck in cluster pockets of Ahmedabad city and Ahmedabad industrial estate areas, with minimal ration and no money
Days after thousands of migrant daily wage labourers from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh walked all the way from Ahmedabad to border districts of Gujarat to cross over, the daily wagers from far off states such as UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal are left in the city to fend for themselves.
According to an estimate provided by non-government organisations involved in humanitarian work, over 3,000 migrant labourers are stuck in the city and industrial areas of Ahmedabad district.
“We have over 1,500 labourers stuck in clusters in areas such as Vaishno Devi circle, Labour Colony Thaltej, Odhav, Ramol and Paldi. We have tried and catered to them by providing essentials,’’ said Chandani Nebhnani, founder of Chandani Foundation, involved in humanitarian work.
While the migrant workers stuck in the city still have access to the help provided by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and various NGOs, those living in the industrial pockets have been victims of “apathy” till now.
Sanjay Lodhi (23), a native of Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, is struggling to get basic needs after his company shut down operations on March 20. Lodhi used to work in an automobile spare parts company in Panchtantra estate of Changodar area in Ahmedabad. He claims after March 20, some 70 labourers from UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal are stuck without money or ration.
“We get Rs 450 every day as our daily wage and with that money we pay our rent of Rs 2,500 per month in Changodar. Now with no money, we don’t know how we will pay our rent and arrange for ration. No one from the administration has visited us and our savings are also getting depleted fast,” said Lodhi.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Harshad Vora, resident additional collector, said, “Efforts are being made to ensure that the daily wagers don’t have to go out of their homes for next 14 days. Today we have distributed 45,000 food packets and over 10,000 food kits across the district. Yet, we agree that the labourers are facing problem of food. For that we are identifying schools in rural areas which could be turned into shelter for the labourers.”
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