More than 400 migrant workers set out by 11 private buses for their home state of Madhya Pradesh from various parts of Rajkot district over the past two days and the process will continue in coming days also, Rajkot district administration officials said on Sunday.
Chaos reigned when several workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar working with various MSMEs in Rajkot city assembled at Ahir Chowk, demanding they be allowed to return home. Police intervened and dispersed the crowd from the public square.
“We issued permissions to eight private buses arranged by people privately to go to Madhya Pradesh yesterday (May 2). Around 350 people left for MP on board those buses. Today, permission was issued to three more buses,” Rajkot District Collector Remya Mohan told media persons on Sunday.
Meanwhile, two buses with 69 agricultural labourers left for Madhya Pradesh from Moviya village of Gondal taluka while one mini bus from Jetpur left with 14 other labourers on Sunday.
“Village sarpanches helped labourers arrange for these buses at the latter’s cost. All the workers were medically screened at Moviya and Jetpur before they were allowed to board buses,” Rajesh Aal, sub-divisional magistrate of Gondal told The Indian Express.
The SMD said that local government officers are helping these labourers register themselves on http://www.digitalgujrarat.gov.in platform to facilitate their return. “The 69 labourers who left from Moviya are from Katani district of MP while the 14 who left from Jetpur are native of Bhind. The buses will drop them to district headquarters from where local district administrations would help them reach home,” Aal added.
Mohan said that there were plans to run trains to facilitate the return of migrant workers from faraway states, while those hailing from neighbouring states like Madhya Pradesh would be allowed to return to their homes via road.
“There are around 25,000 migrant labourers in 87 villages of Gondal taluka and around 12,000 in Jetpur taluka. Of them, 17,000 and 8,000 respectively have expressed their wish to go back to their homes. We are making arrangements for those who can afford to travel back to their homes,” Aal said, adding the fares are higher as the buses do not have permission to ferry passengers during the return journey.
Leader of Opposition, Paresh Dhanani demanded that the government should bear the cost of return migration of labourers from Gujarat. “The government should arrange for free journey for the poor labourer families who have been battling unemployment and hunger in times of coronavirus pandemic,” Dhanani tweeted on Sunday.