For the first time in nearly two months since the exodus of migrant workers from urban areas began, there was a dip in their numbers at Medchal. “Today, we processed nearly 800 people with the largest tranche of 250 workers from Uttar Pradesh reaching here,” said a police official supervising the transit operation of the migrating workers. The workers are moved to a function hall before they are put on special trains for their journey home.
The road junction near the Outer Ring Road has been a halting station for the migrant workers on their way to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and other northern states. “It is the first time when these bags are not empty. The number of people who stopped here ranged between 8,000 and 10,000 today that the number has declined substantially,” said Hyamvati, an Integrated Child Development Services official at the site, pointing to the women and children’s kits being distributed by the organisation.
However, the reasons the workers are exiting the city remain similar. “For one month the thekedar (contractor) gave us rations but he stopped paying us for the past one month and is not picking up the phone,” said Hanslal, who used to work as a labourer in the Gowlidoddi area of Hyderabad. He and seven others were waiting to travel to their hometown of Chindwara in Madhya Pradesh via Nagpur.
“Will not come back till this coronavirus fear disappears. We don’t want to be trapped in another lockdown. We had a difficult time getting food. I used to send money to my parents but now I have to look for some money,” said Raj Kumar, who does putty work. He and his friends were on their way to their home-town near Balaghat in MP.
While the number of workers at the Medchal transit halt declined, some of them appeared to have moved to Kamareddy. “Today, we arranged five buses for transport of migrant workers to various States from Kamareddy. We moved away from Medchal as a number of workers are hiding in lorries for their journey. We are persuading them to get down and are arranging buses for them with proper documentation,” said Mukti Bosco of Healing Fields Foundation, who has been arranging transport for migrant workers.