MUMBAI: While lakhs of migrants are being sent to their respective homes particularly in North India everyday, a group of around 270 casual labourers mostly women are stuck in Mahim with no way to return home.
The NGOs that have been providing them food since lockdown have blamed the red-tapism between the Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu government for their fate.
"When the government announced that the special Shramik trains would run to ferry migrants, we were happy but our happiness was shortened when we were told that there needs to be at least 1,000 migrants to fill a train to a particular destination. So we are falling short," Said Murugan Thevar, one of the casual labourers, who are staying in an open railway ground in Mahim.
They complained that the contractors have stopped making payment since the lockdown for no work so these labourers are staying on open ground and getting food from various charities.
"Out of these 270 labourers, eight to ten women are pregnant and they just want to return home. There are around 60 children along with them. They have police permission, medical fitness but there is no train to take them. Now railways are saying that they should gather at least 1,000 and above people to run a train to Tamil Nadu but they are only 270. It is responsibility of government/railways to announced so that others wanting to go join them. Secondly the railways are saying that the Tamil Nadu government is not allowing their own people to enter TN with any symptoms," Said Rajeshri Sai, from Hunger collective.
These labourers mostly working for railways had arrived for Viluppuram in Tamil Nadu in November last year to work on contract basis and were supposed to return in March end this year but before that the government announced a lockdown and since they are struck. "We also have right to live, right to take a train to our home. Why is central government not taking any initiative to reach us. We are getting food from various charities but we also have dignity. We just want to return home," said Arokya Swami.
Rajeshri Sai said they even tried to book a private bus to Tamil Nadu. "The bus operator asked Rs one lakh to carry around 25 people with social distancing. How is that possible for a poor labourer to pay so much money? Now they have warned if nothing works they will also walk down to Tamil Nadu," added Sai.