Other States

Bihar migrants going back to other States for livelihood

A lorry with Bihar migrant workers on board at Rajapulova Junction of Vizianagaram on Tuesday.  

Migrants who returned to Bihar from Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and other places have started to go back to those States for employment.

This comes despite Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s directive on Thursday to officials to ensure labour intensive work to create job opportunities in the State for the migrants.

Also read: Migrant workers | Video of baby with dead mother in Bihar railway station goes viral

The migrants who returned to their villages in Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Saharsha, Supaul and Purnia districts in north Bihar due to the extended lockdown, carrying tales of pain and anguish, are now returning to the places from where they had come by buses bearing registration numbers of other States and having tourist permit.

Several hundreds of migrants have returned to Punjab and Haryana from villages such as Turki Purvi, Banghara, Kodaria, Raghai, Harpur-Baksh under Meenapur block of Muzaffarpur district, Haripur under Sigheshwarsthan in Darbhanga and other neighbouring villages.

Local middlemen and contractors are said to have become active in these areas to lure migrants back to their places of work on the assurance of a higher payment than before.

On Thursday night, a bus left from Banghara village in Meenapur block of Muzaffarpur with over 50 migrants. In last few days, more than five buses carrying migrant workers have left Meenapur block for different destinations.

Similarly, on Wednesday night a bus bearing registration number from Punjab was parked somewhere between Bithauli and Arai of the district. The bus, locals said, left for Bhatinda in Punjab with over 30 migrant workers. Earlier, another bus left for Ludhiana in Punjab from Haripur village.

These buses could be seen parked at secluded places in the north Bihar districts which are flood-prone and which witness the migration of poor people in large numbers every year.

Cultivation season

“This is the season for paddy cultivation in Punjab and Haryana…the farmers there need the labour of these migrants even on payment three-times higher,” said Chandeshwar Das, ‘mukhia’ (headman) of Banghara panchayat under Meenapur block. He also confirmed that migrants from his panchayat have, of late, started returning to Punjab, Haryana and other States for their “livelihood”.

“Earlier, they were paying ₹4,000 for paddy sowing on an acre of agricultural land but now they are ready to pay ₹12,000 for it with travel cost…how could these poor migrants refuse such an alluring offer,” he asked.

“Yes, they’re leaving one by one to where they had come from …for how long would they be sitting at home without food,” asked a young villager of Banghara who too had returned from Punjab in mid-May.

“If I get an opportunity, I too would like to leave soon,” he said while criticising the Bihar government.

“First they didn’t want us to come back to our village and to our families but when we returned by ourselves, the policemen caned us here and quarantined us at a local school for 14 days which was even worse than hell…no one from the government has approached us yet for our roji-roti (employment),” he said over phone, while adding, “CM Nitish Kumar only keeps assuring us on a daily basis to generate employment for us”. Would assurances feed them, he asked.

Local officials too know about the return migration but they prefer not to comment on it officially. They say they have informed their superiors about this but they have “not received any clear instruction from them yet”.

The Chief Minister during a high-level review meeting on Thursday also directed officials to ensure that the families of migrant workers are also linked to the Jeevika Programme and self-help groups.

Nearly 25 lakh migrant workers have arrived in the State and many of them have returned to their home from quarantine centres set up by the government at village, panchayat and block levels.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 7:31:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bihar-migrants-going-back-to-other-states-for-livelihood/article31755553.ece

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