Migrant headache: Pandemic & fear of lockdown hit livelihood of labourers

Chennai: Migrants from different parts of Tamilnadu are making a beeline to head back to their home towns fearing the repeat of a lockdown similar to 2020.

Most of the migrant workers from Tirupur have already started to leave the textile city as they feel that another lockdown might leave them without food and shelter. The case is no different in Chennai, where majority of construction labourers are from other States.

Migrant workers feel that with the increasing number of Covid-19 cases, the night curfew and the weekend lockdown imposed now are just a prelude to the lockdown.

Tamilnadu is home to more than 10 lakh migrant workers, with the majority hailing from northern and north-eastern states. In March last year, after the nationwide lockdown took effect, most of these workers were left stranded at the Central station without trains.

Sources said that the migrant works continue to leave Tirupur despite the efforts taken by the district administration including awareness programmes along with the Tirupur garment manufacturers and other trade bodies.

Not just Tirupur, migrant workers from Sivakasi are also returning to their home towns.

Bikas Kumar, a migrant worker from Rajasthan, said that he has already booked his ticket to return to his hometown.
‘I know that once the lockdown comes into effect, the administration will not be as conducive like now. I cannot still forget the hardships that I went through last year and I do not want to go through it again,’ he added.

Meanwhile, hotel staffs from Chennai have also started to leave the city as the government has asked restaurants to operate with only 50 per cent workers.

It is however said that the construction works are not affected due to the restrictions.

‘The State government is trying to make each and every effort to prevent the exodus of migrant workers as this would give a wrong message to the outside world,’ official sources said.