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Migrant workers jittery as Maharashtra govt considers lockdown

The Indian Express, India, 30 March 2021 - The looming threat of a lockdown in the state with a daily surge in Covid cases has put migrant workers on the edge with some contemplating returning to their native places to avoid being caught off guard even though the state government is yet to make any announcement of a lockdown.

After the 21-day national lockdown was announced on March 24 last year, many stranded workers without ration or money had walked thousands of kilometers or hitched overpriced rides to reach home.

Mehboob Ali, a 23-year-old worker in a garment unit in Jari Mari area of the city, said that he has been watching news updates closely. “We know there is no announcement yet but nobody wants to suffer like last year. I spent over Rs 3,000 to go home on a truck at a time when I did not have any means of earning,” he said. On Sunday evening, Ali approached a local shop which doubles as a ticket-booking office but was told that no berth was available on trains to his hometown in Uttar Pradesh till April 8. Last week, he sent his 22-year-old brother, who was working with him, back home on a train but thought he should stay back and earn at least for a few more days in case a lockdown renders both of them jobless again. “I have been seeing many booking tickets to go so I do not want to take a risk waiting back,” said Ali, who returned to the city in August. He said workers in the unit are also being paid less than half of their salaries since the past two months with owners claiming that there is no demand.



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