Amid the Indian crisis of COVID-19, migrant workers have left cities and relocated more frequently in retaliation for last year when the closure of companies left them jobless – but this time they are concerned about security.
India on Thursday recorded 379,257 new cases of COVID-19 and 3,645 new deaths, according to a Ministry of Health survey. They were the deadliest people in the country who were reported one day since the outbreak began.
With a population of over 18 million, several cities, including the national capital of New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Surat and Bengaluru have been closed.
Medical facilities have been depleted, hospitals are overcrowded and undernourished, medical and hospital staff.
“I just read about all the cases and the death and the anxiety. I had a job but I did not want to live in the city, “said Sanjit Kumar, 30, who left Surat from West India last week by train for his home village east of Bihar.
“Last year I got back in the car. But this time, I didn’t want to wait for it to close completely. I was scared and watched the death messages on WhatsApp, ”he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone from his hometown.
Life is precious to everyone. ”
Strict efforts to establish India last year, such as cutting off travel lanes, affected nearly 100 million people from other countries, prompting people to relocate to cities where the textile, construction and brick-and-mortar industries operate.
Hundreds of people have died in road accidents while riding, cycling and traveling in cars and vans in extreme heat, aid agencies said.
When the second wave of COVID-19 began crossing India last month, migrants who had returned to work after a few months of inactivity began fleeing again, fearing that the transport would pick up again.
Three migrant workers have been killed when a busload of people from New Delhi overturned in central India, local media reported.
But officials and human rights activists said the effects of this year’s closure were not as great as in 2020 because factories had not yet closed completely and trains continued to operate.
The government this month relaunched the telephones launched in April 2020 and announced financial support for employers who have lost their jobs to the epidemic.
“The number of calls coming into our phones is not enough than last year. We have also told our employers to hire workers, “said DPS Negi, India’s chief commissioner.
“There is not much fear in people’s minds as travel services are not closed. The government is much better prepared this time than last year. ”
Until a few weeks ago, the non-profit Vik Vikas who are citizens of eastern Odisha had connected their colleagues in Kerala and arranged for them to travel but this has stopped.
Many of them now have reservations to return to their villages as the number of occupational diseases has increased and many are afraid of contracting the virus, officials said.
“We are exchanging gears to save lives here. We will use what we have to bring them back and separate them [them]. We are not encouraging them to return to the cities, “said Liby Johnson, Gram Vikas chief executive.
“We are facing a very difficult situation.… It is no longer the problem of COVID like last year’s closure. This time it is only COVID, and the epidemic is causing problems. Personal safety and life are very important now,” he said.
Migrant staff phones that have been switched off for a few months have also started ringing, with staff needing full train tickets or security guarantees.
“They want to know where the best possible medical care is,” said Johnson Topno, head of the immigration control group east of Jharkhand.
“She is worried that they will be safe – in cities or in the country. They want proofs, but as always, no one can, ”he said.