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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

‘Returning home feels good, but future looks bleak,’ say migrant workers

This was the first special train for migrants to leave Goa. The train, 20 compartments of which are taking 1196 passengers home, is expected to reach Gwalior Saturday morning.

Written by Smita Nair | Panaji | Updated: May 9, 2020 12:35:59 pm
Migrant workers, India lockdown, Coronavirus crisis, goa news, Indian express news The train with 1,196 migrants leaves Thivim station. (Express photo)

Train ticket examiners and Goa government officials clapped and waved to the passengers as a special train for migrants left Thivim station for Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh Friday.

This was the first special train for migrants to leave Goa. The train, 20 compartments of which are taking 1196 passengers home, is expected to reach Gwalior Saturday morning.

Among the passengers was Kisan Kumar from Satna, who lost his job. “Returning home feels good, but the future looks bleak. Farming is an option but conditions are not good back home,” he said. Next to him was Saurav Patel, 25, who said he plans to grow moong in his fields. “My brother is stuck in Delhi. In Gwalior, I have a family to feed after our father passed away. I worked in a hotel but with no guests now, the owner said it is best I leave.”

The exercise to send the migrants home involved coordination by the north and south collectorates of Goa, state police and the Konkan Railway.

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IAS officer Kunal explained that the passengers for the train were selected on the basis of their home districts. “These people are from eight districts near Gwalior. We have shared the data with Madhya Pradesh.”

North Goa Collector R Menaka said,“The migrants were screened and given food for the journey. Few of those who had registered initially to go home later called to say they have started working again. We ensured the ones in distress were sent first.”

 

On Thursday night, officials of the two collectorates assembled the migrants at one location before taking them to the station. Between 6 am and 11 am, buses reached Thivim.

The passengers were thermal-screened, given a parcel of food and allocated seats in the compartments. In adherence to distancing norms, 60 passengers sat in each compartment.

Also Read | On bicycles to Bihar

Officials from Directorate of Health Services said all the migrants were screened for fever and eight of them were asked to return to their shelter and promised a journey once they feel better.

While some left with no luggage, some were seen taking clothes and utensils back home.

Malik Khan, 60, who works as a helper, said, “A few of us received calls that a storm has damaged our huts back home. We are going as it is tough to eat free food at shelters here when your family is struggling without a roof. Our jobs are gone anyway. I want to go home to help my family.”

Deepu Shakya carried a paint bucket, like many others. “Many of us worked as masons and painters. These buckets are from work sites. We have nothing to carry our clothes in, so we are using them. Builders told us work will not begin for a few months, so we are returning home.”

South Goa collector Ajit Roy said, “Many are leaving because of a fear of uncertainty. We will keep our shelters running. All energies are focused on handling this crisis.”

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