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'You Can't go Back': Migrant Workers Told in Tamil Nadu

prasad1

Well-known member
09/MAY/2020
Two days ago, the Karnataka government, after a meeting with prominent builders, announced that it would not facilitate the travel of migrant workers back home on the grounds that their labour was needed to restart the economy. This declaration attracted widespread criticism and has been suspended for the time being. However, in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, the government is doing much the same thing covertly, without any open declaration.

I’m part of a volunteer group, the Chennai Citizens COVID Fund for Migrant Labour: this came together soon after the first lockdown was announced in order to reach out to migrant workers stranded in different parts of Tamil Nadu. Over the last six weeks, we have been in touch with roughly 18,000 workers. Over the past week, the group has been inundated with calls from workers desperate to go home and asking how they can do this.

After the official announcement that state governments were free to arrange transport for stranded workers, Tamil Nadu appointed a special officer to coordinate travel arrangements. In practice, there is complete lack of information and widespread chaos. Two helplines were set up, but the staff handling them spoke only in Tamil and had no information to pass on. No public announcement of any process to count or register those who wanted to return was made and no schedule of train departures provided.

The government took several days to create an online form for workers asking to go. This form is in English: it asks workers to provide an email address among other things. It was originally prepared for Indians stranded outside the country and is being reused for migrant workers without any regard for their actual circumstances.

Meanwhile, migrant workers are trying to do whatever they can to publicise their desire to go back home. Some groups went to offices of the Chennai Municipal Corporation or police stations, others to the office of the district collector or local tahsildar (depending on where they happen to be). At most of these places they were turned back with threats. In some cases, their names etc. were taken down, but they were not informed of what, if anything, would happen next.

It is certainly not the case that the Tamil Nadu government cannot act efficiently or lacks the capacity to send workers home. It is clear its actions (or non-actions) are designed to keep them penned up in their workplaces in order to help employers in the industrial and construction sectors. An official told one of our volunteers on condition of anonymity that those in charge of making travel arrangements had been ordered to go slow until the government figured out ways of restarting work. It has not hesitated to use the police to “persuade” workers to return to their workplace camps.

 

prasad1

Well-known member
Hundreds of workers living in crowded conditions on three sites of L&W Construction Private Ltd, a 100 percent subsidiary of Lee Kim Tah-Woh Hup Holdings Pte (a Singapore based company), asked to go home. There are videos showing the police confronting them, telling them they must return to work, and the gates of the site being locked in order to prevent them from coming out again.

Before this, our helpline got in touch with some of these workers over a complaint about inadequate rations. A volunteer spoke to one Subramani, a project manager, who confirmed that each worker was being given just 200 grams of rice a day: this, he claimed, was enough since they were only “eating and sleeping”.

After repeated phone calls, complaints to the labour department and inquiries from the press, ration supplies to L&W sites showed a marginal improvement, but not before one of the whistleblowers who got in touch with us was reprimanded and threatened. The irony of the story is that the rations the company was distributing came from a state agency (the Board of Construction Workers) and not its own coffers. None of the workers at L&W were paid any wages during the lockdown. Despite this, they were told to get back to work: they have refused and are waiting to go home.

Another group of workers on a Chennai Metro Rail construction site find themselves trapped there. They worked for a sub-contractor of Saraswathy Engineering Ltd. (contracted by Chennai Metro Rail), who disappeared without paying their wages a week before the lockdown commenced. One day before the lockdown, Saraswathy Engineering told the workers it would employ them directly, but without taking any responsibility for unpaid wages. Each worker was paid 500 rupees a week during the lockdown as an “advance”. One of the site engineers explained to our volunteer that this was to make sure that the workers would remain, so as to restart work whenever the lockdown was lifted.

When our group raised the issue of unpaid wages with Chennai Metro Rail Limited, they responded by saying that there were no pending payments to Saraswathy Engineering, and that they bore no responsibility for sub-contracts. These workers want to go home too, but they fear they will have to forgo their unpaid wages. In addition, they point to the presence of security guards onsite, where they are living. Workers at another CMRL site (employed by Gannon Dunkerle) also wish to leave but are waiting for unpaid back wages dating from January.

Some 300 people working for the construction giant L&T at the Koodankulam power plant have been told to return to work even though they are reluctant (for fear of infection). Even in normal times, they cannot leave their camp without gate passes—now they are literally under watch.

 

prasad1

Well-known member
Another group of 38 workers at the Sree Lakshmi Venkateshwara Spinning Mills in Tiruppur district is desperate to go home. They live on the company’s premises and were given rations (but not wages) during the lockdown. When they said they wanted to leave, they were told that work would be restarting soon. They were threatened with arrest if they tried to go anywhere. They’ve been waiting in limbo, eating rice and watery dal: the factory has not restarted operations yet. Another group of migrants protested in Tiruppur on Thursday: 15 of them have been arrested for “instigating” the others.

The truth is that migrant workers in Tamil Nadu survived the lockdown as best they could, often on half empty stomachs. They were largely forgotten by their employers. Now both government and employers are acting on the unspoken assumption that workers have to get back to work, whether they want to or not, irrespective of their working and living conditions. In the words of one worker (Sayeb Ali, Murshidabad district, West Bengal): “Are we not humans? Don’t we have families waiting for us, worried about us? What moral right do they have to tell us we need to get back to work?” Another worker, Vijendra Mandal from Giridih in Jharkhand, said, “We are tired and emotionally drained. If we are to stay hungry, we prefer to do it at home, with our family and children.”

After conducting a survey of a small sample from our database, we found that 95% of respondents wanted to go back home; 75% wanted to go home even if they were offered work. 63% of respondents were owed wages from before the lockdown.

In the face of state indifference and active coercion, some workers are undertaking desperate journeys. A group from Jharkhand in Sriperumbudur paid thousands of rupees to a conman who promised to take them back in private buses: he simply disappeared with the money. Three hundred Jharkhand workers stranded in Ooty tried to hire vehicles; they were refused a pass and told that only 20 people would be allowed to travel in one bus, making the journey unaffordable. One worker said that some of them are now planning to cycle home.

The Tamil Nadu government is trying to keep migrant workers hostage in all but name. Every other state has run trains for them, but only one train for migrant workers has left Tamil Nadu so far (from Coimbatore on the night of 8 May for Bihar); another train ferried people who had come to Vellore for medical treatment. The state is working hand in glove with employers, using its coercive powers to restart the wheels of industry.

The pandemic has exposed the underbelly of the Indian economy, shining a light on the inhumane treatment of workers without whom economic activity would grind to a standstill. This is not merely a failure of the state, but that of society as a whole. The absence of effective labour legislation, chronic regulatory failures, the political influence of factory owners and small employers, and the vast size of the informal sector (where labour laws do not apply) means that capitalism in India is almost completely lawless as far as workers’ rights are concerned. This has taught most middle-class Indians to view “labor” in purely abstract terms as an element of production that can be used, withdrawn and abused at will.

 

prasad1

Well-known member
This is modern-day indentured labor, or is it slavery?
These atrocities are not committed by British or Mugal masters, these masters are indigenous.
We think we are evolved and cultured people, what a travesty of justice.
We claim the glory of our ancient culture, unfortunately for the migrant poor, they are living in the 14th century.
They even may have had more right then.

I am ashamed and aghast at the poor condition, the poor Indian probably Hindu migrants have inside India.
I am also surprised that average Indians do not care about the plight of these migrants.
 

prasad1

Well-known member
‘Our Dreams Are Dead’: India’s Migrant Workers Just Want A Shot At Survival Now Dreams Are Dead’: India’s Migrant Workers Just Want A Shot At Survival Now

Debasis Parida, an embroiderer in a garment factory, counts the day he stood for 14 hours to get three kilograms of rations and a packet of salt as one of the hardest and most humiliating of his life.

The 28-year-old fell so sick that he had to go to a hospital and ended up spending Rs. 200 getting treated for dehydration in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. It was days before he felt well enough to leave the room that he rents with the six other migrant workers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

A native of Odisha, Parida said the cooked food the municipality in the city of Surat was giving migrant workers in his part of town stopped a few weeks after Modi announced a nationwide lockdown on 24 March, leaving him scrounging for food. After cutting out one meal from the day and reducing the portions that he eats, Parida says he always feels hungry.

“I don’t know which is worse. Feeling hungry or waiting in line from six in the morning to eight in the night,” said Parida, speaking to HuffPost India over the phone on Monday.

“There is no way that poor people like us can live on our own terms in this country. We are beaten down at every turn. All we want now is a chance to survive,” he said.

Parida used to earn a monthly salary of Rs.12,000 as an embroiderer in Surat, a city famous for its diamond-cutting and textiles trade. But the factory he works in was suffering losses even before the lockdown, and his last payment before everything came to a standstill was Rs. 7,500, back in March.

 

prasad1

Well-known member
The media scrutiny that triggered outrage at home and abroad forced the Modi government and state governments to take steps like distributing free rations, and making emergency cash transfers, even as they banned all interstate movement to stop the highly infectious virus from spreading to the hinterlands. After weeks of delay, the central government finally announced a plan for migrant workers to be ferried home in special trains and buses a fortnight ago, but its execution has been slow and chaotic, with no clarity on who is even paying the fares for these journeys.

Many workers who have managed to reach home have still not been able to see their families, as they need to stay in a quarantine centre for at least two weeks before joining them. And the bigger worry—how to make a living—will have to be addressed after that.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party-run governments in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh have decided to tackle the looming economic crisis by rescinding crucial legal protections for workers, including The Minimum Wages Act in UP, which could force them into bonded labour.

 

prasad1

Well-known member
Parida said that he could not have received the emergency cash relief that state governments had promised because he has neither a ration card nor a bank account.

Other migrant workers from Odisha working in garment factories in Surat told HuffPost India they had not received any money in their bank accounts.

Pintu Mohanty, 26, said, “I have not received one rupee from the government,” he said. “No one came and asked after the poor. We asked for the authorities to come and sanitize our basti. They came once but they did not sanitize. They just threw bleach.”

Swain also said that he had neither received any rations or money from the government.

 

tbs

Well-known member
hi

how can these migrant workers survive in their own state?....these BIMARU states already suffering...

BIMARU means..bihar/madhyapradesh/rajasthan/uttarpradesh...its really critical for migrant ppl..''

finally some UNREST/CIVIL WAR LIKE system will arise..
 

prasad1

Well-known member
hi

how can these migrant workers survive in their own state?....these BIMARU states already suffering...

BIMARU means..bihar/madhyapradesh/rajasthan/uttarpradesh...its really critical for migrant ppl..''

finally some UNREST/CIVIL WAR LIKE system will arise..

Thank you TBSgaru, for noticing the plight of migrant Indains, while others are ignoring it.
 

prasad1

Well-known member
Migrant worker, his pregnant wife and 2 kids walking to MP village from Jaipur

A migrant labourer, 25-year-old Naresh and his 8-month pregnant wife Malti along with son Pradeep and daughter Tanu, while walking towards their home in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, on Agra highway during third phase of Lockdown due to corona pandemic, in Jaipur, India on Thurssday, 14 May 2020.

A migrant labourer, 25-year-old Naresh and his 8-month pregnant wife Malti along with son Pradeep and daughter Tanu, while walking towards their home in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, on Agra highway during third phase of Lockdown due to corona pandemic, in Jaipur, India on Thurssday, 14 May 2020.(HT Photo/Himanshu Vyas)

Lean and frail, 24-year-old Malti Arwar is walking with a handbag full of clothes balanced on her head, a nylon bag and a steel pot with food in both her hands and an eight-month-old child in her womb. Along with her husband Naresh and children Tanu and Pradeep, she started walking from Jaipur towards their village in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday.

“Chhattarpur Jila, Gram Maharajanpurva, post Bachhaun,” Naresh said, his eyes sparkling with the mention of his birthplace again and again. It doesn’t matter if it is a good 700 km away and they are on foot. The 25-year-old man is a skilled labourer and worked with a contractor for a government project before the lockdown and his wife is expecting a child soon.

He said he registered on the e-mitra for interstate travel on May 2 but after getting no response for 12 days, the family decided to hit the highway on foot. “Kisi ko jaante nahin Jaipur mein... paisa bhi khatam ho gaya,” said the 25-year-old man.

The shade from a huge bag perched on his head envelopes his sweating face. He shows the 12-digit token number generated by e-mitra portal where people wishing to travel register for permission. The token number scribbled on a paper is folded neatly and kept in the pocket of his shirt.


Naresh looks hopefully towards the highway for a ride but the vehicles passing by are few and they do not stop. After they pass, mingled sounds of anklets and rubber slippers of Malti scrapping the scorching charcoal can be clearly heard as she totters along. While 5-year-old Pradeep adjusts his toy goggles and the mask he put on especially for the long walk home, they have just reached Paldi Meena near Kanota.


Jaipur district collector Joga Ram said the administration has set up camps for workers walking on highways. “We have requested them not to walk. We have also pressed 15 buses to bring walking people to these camps,” he said.

According to information provided in the Rajasthan High Court on Thursday, more than 9 million people have registered on the government portal for permission to go home from Rajasthan. Until May 13, 31,197 workers, students and migrants have been sent home by 27 trains and 33,000 more will be sent by 22 trains by May 18, said the government in an affidavit in the court.



What a sad statement of good intentions and poor implementation of the government.

Are these migrants not INDIANS? From their names, they appear to be Hindus too. Even the people with Islamaphobia should be outraged, but I suppose they are Modi Bhakts and dare not criticize the central government.
 
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tbs

Well-known member
hi

these pic reminds me as MIGRATION DURING PARTITION WITH INDIA/PAK....loads of ppl in train..
 

prasad1

Well-known member
hi

these pic reminds me as MIGRATION DURING PARTITION WITH INDIA/PAK....loads of ppl in train..
That was when India was just born, we did not have the resources, but this is now.
We have a strong Central Government with a supermajority and a country with the economic ambition of becoming a world leader. I expected better treatment of the poor.
 

tbs

Well-known member
hi

all words sweet....like writing sugar in paper..nothing on real..poor has to suffer in india...i saw one pic...

a small baby is sleeping in suitcase..mom is pulling suit case...very sad story...
 

Janaki Jambunathan

Well-known member
Piyush Goyal responded to her tweet and said: "I feel sad that while there is a need for 105 trains/day to bring back migrants to WB, the State is accepting only 105 trains over 30 days. I once again hope for the sake of Bengali brothers & sisters in different parts of the country, that WB will accept them back with open arms


 

prasad1

Well-known member
There is no Otherside when it comes to the suffering of poor people because of mismanagement by the government. Please spare me the crocodile tears. They mean nothing. You can have another side only on a balanced affair.

Would you say there was Otherside in the war of Ramayana?
This was gross mismanagement by the government of an action taken by the government, which caused this human suffering. 90 lacks people were made to move, with no planning.
 
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