More than 10,000 migrant farm workers from Maharashtra find themselves stuck in the neighbouring Telangana with no avenues for them to return home. Most of these workers are from Chandrapur and Gadchiroli districts in Vidarbha and had gone to Telangana to harvest chillies.
Itihas Dudhe had traveled to Khammam district of Telangana in January. Hailing from Ghodewahi village in Sawali taluka of Chandrapur district, Dudhe was among the 14 workers from his village who had traveled to Khammam to harvest chillies – a work for which he is paid Rs 9 per kg. This is an annual affair for people like Dudhe who have been crossing the border regularly.
However, when the lockdown was announced, Dudhe and others found themselves stuck in Telangana. “The announcement caught us by surprise and by the time we realised what was happening, we were struck,” he said. At present, Dudhe and other villagers are lodging in the fields and home of their employer.
State minister Vijay Wadettiwar admitted that more than 10,000 labourers from Chandrapur were stuck in Telangana. He said Mehboobnagar, Khammam and Bhadrachalam districts in the neighbouring state have the highest concentration of such workers. “It is an annual migration but this year the pandemic and the lockdown has put them in quandary,” he said. Wadettiwar, who is the guardian minister of Chandrapur, said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has spoken to his counterpart in Telangana, who has assured him of all necessary help.
The lockdown has also mandated migrated workers should not be allowed to return to their home states. Instead they would be housed in temporary shelters where they would be given food by the district administration. “We are in constant touch with both the stuck labourers and the local administrations. Once the lockdown is lifted, they will be brought back to Maharashtra,” he said.
Dudhe’s children, aged 8 and 14, are staying in his village. “At present their elderly grandmother is looking after them. We are worried about them but can’t to do anything at this moment,” Dudhe said.
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