“At least something to eat and drink” languished a migrant worker while looking at his 3 children. “I am not being able to sustain my children, carrying them on my shoulder in rotation since we started walking. It’s been 50 kilometres now”.
Mahesh works in a factory in Bhajanpura, Delhi. Mahesh and his three children had started walking during the early morning hours. They will continue to walk for over three hundred kilometres towards Etawah, U.P, if they do not manage to get the bus services started by Uttar Pradesh government especially for the migrant workers to take them home.
The condition across the Delhi-Noida border, also the Haryana border is heart-wrenching. Daily wage labourers in huge numbers have bundled up their clothes, utensils, mattresses, some money and have started walking towards their native places in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Haryana. They are the worst affected as the country observes 4th day of lockdown as the COVID-19 cases rise with every passing hour.
Despite the government's assurance of food, shelter, and money, the workers claim they haven’t received anything. They have resorted to walking home to their villages out of sheer desperation.
Some workers at Delhi Noida border are being stopped by cops and are being provided with food and water. The cops are also arranging transport to take them to their respective bus services for onward journey. “We decided to walk for over 600 kilometres to Shikohabad in Uttar Pradesh. Today bus service is being provided. But those who had been walking for last 3 days, they have suffered the most. We are not receiving any facility from government,” said Mohammed Sheikh, who works in a factory in Chandni Chowk.
While food and water are being arranged at border check posts for every labourer, the impact of the lockdown on their income for the next few months is drastic. With no income, they will be solely dependant on schemes of government. They are clueless about what to do once back at home, how to continue to feed their children during lockdown without any source of income.
“Our little ones shouldn’t suffer at any cost, that is our priority. But only relying on schemes of government won’t give us much benefits. We need a stable source of income for our stable life,” said a lady labourer with tears in her eyes.
The Uttar Pradesh Government has deployed over 200 buses to transport back the stuck migrant workers in Delhi, Noida, and Ghaziabad. The buses will ply every two hours from the borders in Ghaziabad and Noida. The Airlines like SpiceJet, GoAir have also provided services to transport workers from Delhi and Mumbai to Bihar, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh. Many NGOs have also collected food to dole out to these worst-hit migrant workers.