Several migrant workers in Maharajganj Bazar of Agartala -- Tripura’s largest market -- say they would rather stay back and get some work instead of nothing back home
Agartala: Tripura government may have announced to run Shramik Special Trains from different locations of the country to bring back migrant workers home, the situation in the state is quite the opposite.
Caught between home and work, hundreds of migrant workers in Tripura say they would rather stay back and not return to their home states amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Speaking with EastMojo, Babloo Yadav, a labour sardaar (labourer handler) who is looking after all the other fellow labourers, said they have faced the jolt of the coronavirus pandemic as there was no work following the announcement of lockdown.
Yadav has been working in Agartala for the past 20 years in at Maharajganj Bazar, the largest market in Tripura, in loading and unloading goods and materials which come from different parts of the country.
“We have been working in Agartala for the past many years but due to the lockdown the loading and unloading was limited. We are about 15 people living at the accommodation provided by our employers. We are maintaining social distancing protocols,” Babloo said.
Babloo Yadav, labourer handler, Agartala
Thirty-nine-year-old Prakash Yadav, 62-year-old SantoshYadav and many others who are working in Maharajganj Bazar are in a similar situation. They wish to stay back in Tripura and not travel in train or buses to return to their home states.
Earlier, taking to Twitter, chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Monday had announced, “Government of Tripura has decided to run Shramik Special Train from Mumbai to Agartala to bring back our people stranded in Maharashtra. Those who are willing to return home by train may register their Names in the below Government Portal: https://covid19.tripura.gov.in .”
He also announced similar trains between from Bengaluru to Agartala to bring back people from Tripura stranded in Karnataka free of cost. Entire expenditure will be paid from Tripura CM's Relief Fund.
Another worker, Papu Yadav, said that he came to Tripura four years ago looking for work from Bihar and since then he has been working here as a loader.
“Prior to the announcement of the lockdown, I could easily earn between Rs 400 and 600, but due to the pandemic and people not visiting the markets for purchasing goods and materials, the work has become limited. We hardly earn Rs 200 or sometimes Rs 300,” Papu said.
Papu Yadav, migrant worker, Agartala
He also said that he is hopeful that soon this pandemic will be over and once the market becomes normal, he would start earning more.
“May be we earn less here but still be have something in our pocket, but back at home we would have nothing in hand and we have to look after the needs of the family. It is not safe to travel in train at the moment as we may get infected with the virus. It is better to stay here and work rather than taking the pain to return,” Papu added.
Earlier, on May 4, CM Deb had announced that the Tripura government has decided to send back the migrant workers to their respective states with the help of the Central government.
As per a letter issued by Tripura chief secretary Manoj Kumar, there are more than 33,000 migrant workers and their family members in the state belonging largely to Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Assam & West Bengal.
Meanwhile, till Monday, 37,721 persons had registered themselves with the state Tripura government for returning home from different parts of the country.
These include 12,782 persons in Karnataka, 8,129 in Tamil Nadu, 6,174 in West Bengal, 1,470 in Assam and 1,382 in Telangana.
The first train with 1,400 passengers from Karnataka will reach Agartala on Tuesday night, while the first train from Chennai in Tamil Nadu with Tripura residents would leave on May 15. A train between New Delhi and Agartala has also been announced by the Union ministry of railways.