While the lockdown has forced many migrant workers in Punjab to leave for their hometowns due to lack of money and essentials, some have been more fortunate.
Among them is Vijay Kumar, a factory worker living in Satguru Nagar in Ludhiana’s Gyaspura area. He works in the packaging industry and has been in Ludhiana for more than five years. He lives with his family and despite the lockdown, has no plans to return to his native Bihar.
Vijay is part of a group of 25 people from the same family. Most of them got an advance and are on regular wages. “We never went to get donated ration. I am staying put and have no plans to leave for Bihar. We are lucky to have savings.” Follow Coronavirus in India LIVE Updates
Maya Rani, who is in her early fifties, works as a domestic help. Her employers too have given her an advance, due to which she can pay for water, electricity, and rent of her one-room accommodation in which she lives with her son and daughter. Her son, who works in a garment shop, is sitting at home. “The house where I work have given me advance. I got free ration packet given by someone who came in the area and people come daily to serve langar. Hence I did not leave,” said Maya.
In Haibowal area too, people are being served langar and provided dry ration. Tarun Jain Bawa, president of Bahadurke Dyeing Association, said, “Nearly 40,000 labourers work in our dyeing units. They live on Jassian Road. It is our duty to provide them ration as they have been working with us for the past many years. My staff provided ration in the colonies where they live and to our surprise, many of them had got 2-3 times as well. We have also given them advance, hence our workers are staying back. A few who are going are the ones who were hired on a daily basis by many factories depending upon workload.”
Gurmeet Singh Kular, president of the Federation of Industrial and Commercial Organisation, said, “Accommodation is a problem, hence many are planning to leave. I have provided accommodation to 125 families near the factory premises.”
Avinaash, another worker who lives near Bapu market, said, “Langar comes here twice a day. I want to be with my family as I feel tense at times, but since there is no transport, I don’t want to take any chances by going on foot. My factory owner has given me advance as well.”
Vishnu Sharma, who has come from Nepal and lives in Lohara village, said, “As of now borders are sealed, hence I don’t want to risk walking till the Nepal border.”
Ludhiana district has over 15 lakh migrant labourers working in factories, as daily wagers, domestic helps and also in the organised and unorganised sectors.
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