Close to 100 migrant workers, who had earlier registered to travel to their homes in Madhya Pradesh, decided to stay back in Daund and gave the Shramik Special train to Gwalior a miss on Sunday. Similarly, on Monday, about 50 migrant workers chose to stay back in Pune rather than board a special train to Haridwar in Uttarakhand as they had found work in the city.
Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said these instances — although few in number — indicated that reopening industrial units as well as resuming construction work in Pune district will have a positive impact and keep in check the ongoing exodus of migrant workers.
Ram said the administration, however, was determined to create a situation that was conducive for migrant workers to stay put in Pune.
“We have started industrial units at MIDCs located in rural areas. Construction activities are resuming in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad areas. Once the employment opportunities open up, workers will decide to stay back. Yesterday, about 100 people, who had earlier registered to travel to Gwalior from Daund, didn’t turn up citing work at hand. Today, about 50 others who were to go to Haridwar, Uttarakhand, did not board the train and opted to stay back and work. Similar instances have been reported from Chakan MIDC too. These small instances show that if people get work, they will choose to stay back,” Ram said.
According to Sanjay Patil, Tehsildar of Daund, 1,260 migrants had registered with the authorities to travel to Madhya Pradesh. But when the Shramik Special train left on Sunday evening, it carried only 1,170 people as others did not turn up.
“Kurkumbh MIDC has many pharmaceutical manufacturing units. From about 20 companies, 350 people had submitted applications to travel to Madhya Pradesh. On Monday evening, however, only 250 came. When we asked, we were told that since they had work at the MIDC they had decided to stay back. We managed to get some people to fill in,” Patil said.
Ram also said besides work, another important reason for migrants to leave was the “fear factor” due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is terrifying for many due to the fast rate of transmission, global spread and the nature of treatment, including quarantine and isolation. We need to rid people of fear and, at the same time, step up the precaution quotient and we will see many more migrants staying back to work,” he said.
He, however, said to help those who wanted to leave, the administration and Indian Railways had planned more trains in coming days. A total of seven services have been operated to Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan in the last four days. More Shramik Special trains will be operated in the next two to three days, he added.
The state government had agreed to pay the fare for migrants returning to their hometowns. “In the next few days, 23 to 24 Shramik Special trains will be operated from Pune to send back stranded people to various states. Our proposal for six Shramik Special trains for migrants from Bihar is pending with the Bihar government and once we get a go-ahead from them, those trains too will be operated,” said Ram.
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