January 27, 2021 2:31:02 am
WITH DEMAND for migrant labour picking up in Kerala after easing of pandemic-related restrictions, hundreds of workers from the east and northeastern states have started returning to the state. Since regular train services are yet to resume on these routes, these workers are making bus journeys lasting up to five days to reach their destination of livelihood.
Muhammed Ansar, 50, from Murshidabad in West Bengal, told The Indian Express he took a bus to Kerala earlier this month. “Only a few trains are being operated and we can’t wait,’’ said Ansar, who works in a tea shop.
Like him, Mamun Mandal, 22, a mason from Murshidabad, is also back in Kerala. “There is no job in my village. My contractor in Kerala had been asking me to return. If I did not come and start work, he would have taken somebody else… Hence, I was forced to take the bus, despite the journey being long and strenuous,” said Mandal.
According to bus operators, at least a dozen buses operate every day from Kochi and suburban areas to east and northeastern states to ferry migrants. There are agents on both sides to get the migrants for the journeys. Buses are being operated from Kerala up to Nagaon in Assam and Howrah and Siliguri in West Bengal.
A day’s casual work fetches between Rs 900 and Rs 1,000 in Kerala – which drives migrants to the state.
Arshad N of Najath Tour and Travels, who operates daily services from Kerala to the northeast, said, “It takes a continuous journey of four to five days between Kerala and Assam. We charge between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,500 per person to Kerala. The trend would remain until normal train services begin.”
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