While the pandemic-imposed lockdown has been hard for everyone, it has proven to be a battle for survival for migrant workers, tourists, students and out-of-towners who have been stuck in cities and districts far away from home during the lockdown. In fact, there are a lot of people who got stuck in an unfamiliar city where they had travelled to for treatment.
Bikash (30), a carpenter from Jhumri Telaiya in Jharkhand, and his wife (26) and his five-year-old son have been stuck in Vellore, Tamil Nadu for well over a month now. The family came to CMC Vellore on March 10 to receive treatment for Bikash’s wife’s liver ailment. “My wife’s treatment got over on March 31 and by the time we could leave, we got stuck here with the lockdown.”
While the family is keeping good health, they are finding it difficult to survive the lockdown in an unfamiliar place. Bikash and his family have been living at the VAM Guest House, a lodge in Vellore since the lockdown began.
“I have been paying for lodging out of my own pocket. The lodge owner has been collecting half the room rent for April,” said the carpenter.
Bikash said that while the lodge is providing them with a roof over their heads during the lockdown, the family is forced to cook food for themselves. “We cook food for ourselves after purchasing provisions from the local store. The lodge owner has rented out some vessels to us for cooking. I spend about Rs. 300 everyday to sustain my family which includes lodging and food,” he said.
While the Tamil Nadu government has been gathering migrant workers and out-of-towners in Chennai and housing them in government shelters, where they are being provided with food and rations, Bikash said there has been no such efforts in Vellore. “We have received no government aid. I was asked to contact Avinash Kumar, an IAS officer in Vellore, for help, but have not been able to reach him till date”, said Bikash.
Despite remaining in Vellore for over a month now, Bikash said the family has received no help from the Jharkhand government and remains in the dark over communication regarding the family’s return to their home state. Their only hope of returning home now rests on an online form which was filled by Bikash a few days ago to avail transportation back home. “I had filled up a form on Friday to return home by train and submitted it to the given email ID,” he said. However, the carpenter was not yet got any details regarding the train or expected date of journey.
With the Centre making provisions to help workers stranded across the country reach home, Bikash hopes luck will favour the family and speed them on their way home.