Over 100 migrant labourers hailing from Uttar Pradesh started walking to their native villages from here on Monday, prompting the local administration to intervene which sent them back to their rented accommodations amid the third phase of the nationwide lockdown.
The labourers, moving in three separate groups, were stopped by police at Trikuta Nagar locality after covering a distance of a few kilometres from their places of stay. They were asked to return after assuring them that necessary arrangements would be made for their comfortable stay and early departure, officials said.
“The migrant labourers on their own decided to return to their home on foot which is an impossible task. We asked them to stay at their places and assured adequate ration to them till arrangements are put in place for their evacuation to their home states,” Additional Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Tahir Firdous Dutta said.
Dutta, who visited the scene and interacted with the labourers, said there are around 75,000 migrant labourers in Jammu and the government is making every effort to ensure free delivery of ration to them.
Seman Durbal, a resident of Gorakhpur, said desperation led them to take the extreme step as there seems to be no end to the ongoing lockdown. “We are staying idle at our shared rented rooms of 12X12 for the last 40 days and are facing a lot of problems like arranging daily meals. Our survival is at stake,” he said.
Durbal said the government earlier provided them 10 kgs rice and wheat, but nothing was provided after that. “We cannot survive like this and decided to walk the distance to our homes…,” he said.
Ramesh, another labourer belonging to Sant Kabir Nagar in UP, said they are running short of gas cylinders, food items and have exhausted their money. “₹2,000 was transferred to my account by the central government and a ration kit was also provided. Do you think this is enough for 50 days? The lockdown is being extended and who knows when things will resume to normal,” he lamented.
Another labourer, however, claimed no relief from the government came his way. “I was earning ₹300 to ₹350 daily and carrying on with life, but over the past one-and-a-half month, I have got no work. I request the government to make necessary arrangements for our early departure to our native places,” he said.
Officials added that the group of migrant labourers was mostly putting up in the area adjacent to the Science College in the city.