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Migrant workers divided over returning home during second wave of pandemic

Chennai, April 25(BPNS)

The migrant workers of the Industrial hubs of  Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore and Tirupur are a divided lot returning back to their home town in the midst of the second wave of Covid -19. It is to be noted that Tiruppur has around 2.5 lakh migrant workers drawn from West Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha.  Most of the workers of these industrial units had left for their home towns during the 2020 lockdown and many of them returned after normalcy returned to Tiruppur.

Aslam Mohammed, a tailor at a garments unit in Tirupur who hails from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh while speaking to BPNS said, “ Myself and my family consisting of my wife and two small children are staying here at Tiruppur. Last time it was a tough return to my home town and has lost almost all my savings, but this time the company has conducted all the medical checkups and has given us free ration and everything. So I am preferring to stay here and continue with the job.”

However another section of the workers in Tiruppur prefers to go home. Rajendra Mahapatra, 34, a worker in a packaging unit at Tiruppur while speaking to BPNS said, “ Last year during the pandemic, we suffered a lot and there were no trains or private vehicles to take myself and friends home. We were stranded and somehow reached my home after much difficulties. This time I am not doing any such folly and will be travelling to Odisha the coming week itself and has booked my tickets.”

In Coimbatore also the situation is worse with the migrant workers in a dilemma on whether to go home or stay back. While those with families at Coimbatore are preferring to stay back, others are trying to move away from the city.

Selvaraj Manikantan, 26, a worker with a leading pump making unit in Coimbatore while speaking to BPNS said,” I am here with my wife and a young child. If we travel now, we could very well get struck and hence I am staying back here along with my family.”

Many of the migrant workers have booked tickets by flights to North Indian states from Coimbatore and Chennai. While some migrant workers prefer to leave by air, as the travel time will be reduced, the high costs of flights are pulling some back from flying.

Sudendra Singh, a worker at a garment unit in Tirupur had to ultimately fly to his home town in Bhopal. Singh, 34, while speaking to BPNS said, “ The flight charges are quite expensive but I do want to be with my parents and my family. Hence I have booked a ticket by air to Bhopal.”

With Tamil Nadu enforcing stricter measures to contain the second Covid wave, the migrant workers are divided in their preference on staying back and returning to their native lands.