Daily grind at work site helps migrants walk distances

Youths from a social service group serving food to migrant workers on the NH 44 Adilabad bypass road.

Youths from a social service group serving food to migrant workers on the NH 44 Adilabad bypass road.   | Photo Credit: S. Harpal Singh

The stamina from hard work enables migrants keep pace while carrying heavy headloads

American stand-up comedian Steven Wright famously said: “Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.” Had he seen the exodus of migrant workers from metro cities in the country at this juncture, he would have added ‘stamina’ to time.

Yes, it takes a lot of endurance for individuals to walk hundreds of kilometres carrying heavy headloads, like the migrant workers both men and women are doing at present in Telangana to reach their homes far away in central and north India. “It comes from the kind of hard work that these labourers are accustomed to and their simple yet healthy diet,” opined Balwanth Rao Godhule, a former construction worker turned contractor-cum-builder based at Nagole in Hyderabad.

Mr. Godhule belongs to the Lanji area of Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh, which has an estimated 8 lakh of its citizens working in the construction sector across the nation. “Every individual works for 8 hours a day, the work involves walking at least 10 km within the given construction site,” he added giving his reason for the seemingly endless energy that the workers show while they undertaking arduous foot journeys under hot sun, and still not losing their composure.

Long hours standing

Arvind Pandey from Rampur Chaubey in Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh, who worked as a painter in Secunderabad said he worked for 8 hours plus an additional four hours of overtime. Similarly, carpenter Deepak Rao from Gorakhpur in the same State also worked overtime for four hours every day at the same site as the painter.

“We are used to working on our feet for long hours and hence do not find it difficult to walk for long or cycle over long distances like our friends have done,” the workers observed when The Hindu interacted with them on the NH 44 Adilabad bypass. They had started from Secunderabad three days back and had partially covered their journey hitching a ride in lorries.

“All of us are poor and come here to save some money so we work harder than is perhaps required,” asserted Roshan Uike, a mason from Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh who worked on a construction site in Hyderabad. “Each worker earns an average of ₹ 20,000 per month and can save between ₹ 5,000 and ₹ 8,000 after expenses and provided he or she does not fall sick and incur high medical expenses,” the worker-turned labour contractor revealed.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 5:12:16 PM |

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