Follow Us:
Thursday, May 28, 2020

Not a paisa earned in a week, 11 start for Ballia, 500 km away

The men, with small bags on their back, only have a few pairs of clothes and a small water bottle inside. With torn slippers on their feet, red handkerchiefs covering their mouth and a few hundred rupees in their pockets, they seem hopeful of reaching their home in the next four or five days.

Written by Pallavi Singhal | Panchkula | Updated: March 29, 2020 11:17:35 am
Migrant labourers on their way from Pinjore to Ballia in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday. Pallavi Singhal

On Saturday, after not having earned even a single paisa for a week, a group of 11 migrant labourers set out on an ardous journey from Panchkula’s Pinjore to Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia, a small village about 500 km away.

The men, with small bags on their back, only have a few pairs of clothes and a small water bottle inside. With torn slippers on their feet, red handkerchiefs covering their mouth and a few hundred rupees in their pockets, they seem hopeful of reaching their home in the next four or five days.

Among the middle-aged labourers is a 20-year-old Alok Kumar, who had come to Panchkula on March 15 to work along with others and send some money back to his family. “I am not married. I have a family of 10 and I wanted to support them. Thus, when I heard about an opportunity here, I boarded a local train from Lucknow and reached Panchkula on March 15. I only worked a day or two before they shut down the industrial unit.”

The group used to work together at a tile construction firm, one of the many in the villages of Pinjore. They stayed at the factory itself.

“We used to earn an about Rs 300 a day and we would send most of it to our families as we already had a place to stay here. We used to cook our own food. However, since the factory has been shut down, we have been thrown out. The factory’s owner stopped giving us any money. The prices of grains and food items are touching the sky. We cannot afford it anymore,” said Rajinder, heading the group of people.

A police official, who stopped the group, further directed them to walk at least one meter apart for the rest of their journey.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Home Affair issued an order Saturday noon, directing states and UTs to include ‘Provisions for temporary accommodation, food, clothing, medical care et al, for homeless people including migrant labourers, stranded due to the lockdown and sheltered in relief camps’, under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).

The District, Town and Country Planning department of Haryana late Friday also issued a similar advisory to all the DCs and Town Planners in the state. It ordered that the migrant labourers, who are leaving for their homes in the lack of shelter and work, should sufficiently be looked after by their colonisers and contractors and ensure support and accommodation in terms of food, shelter and other essential life-supporting amenities. It also directed the district administrations to give out rations and daily need articles for them and their families. It also directed that no private or government colonisers were to release their labours or workforce engaged at their sites.

Call centre staff walk to Ambala

In a failure of mechanisms employed to assist such persons, another group of eight 19-year-olds were spotted on the road walking from Pinjore to Ambala, their home district.

As many as three girls accompanied by five boys walked towards their hometown. Employees of an incentive-based call centre, which used to market various appliances in Pinjore, the group left around 10 am in an attempt to reach home by midnight.

A 19-year-old Anoop said, “We used to work there before it closed down. We stayed back for a few days but it slowly dawned upon us that nothing is opening for the next two-three months. There is no point staying here away from family. We do not earn enough to pay rent for the next two months without earning anything so we decided to leave.”

Another 19-year-old, Sushma said she had left for home without informing her family. “Had I told them, they would have been worried sick and I cannot stay here. So we packed our bags and left. Moreover, I have a trolley bag, so I can easily drag it on the road,” she said, sitting down on a footpath, exhausted.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: Are smokers at high risk form coronavirus? | Can Vitamin-C prevent or cure coronavirus infection? | What exactly is community spread of coronavirus? | How long can the Covid-19 virus survive on a surface? | Amid the lockdown, what is allowed, what is prohibited?

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Coronavirus Outbreak News, download Indian Express App.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement