Last year, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers returned home following the COVID-19 outbreak and national lockdown. Once again, cases are surging, making the situation worse for migrant workers, especially in India’s financial capital Mumbai.
Migrant workers in India’s Maharashtra state haver been left confused by new COVID lockdowns and are now not sure if they should stay put or return to their home towns in other states as virus cases surge.
The 21-day national lockdown recently announced on 24 March means scores of migrant workers are now stranded across the country, with many unable to work because of the restrictions.
Covid Situation Worsening in Maharashtra
On Monday, the number of active Covid-19 cases crossed the 100,000 mark in India for the first time. More than half of these cases are reported in Maharashtra where a night-time curfew has been imposed between 8 pm and 7 am. On Monday around 9,857 people tested positive in Mumbai. In total, 462,000 have contracted the virus in the city, with 11,797 deaths registered.
Migrant Workers Speak Up
Sputnik spoke to migrant workers and NGOs to understand their concerns in the present situation.
Krishan Pal, who in a clothes factory in Mumbai’s Jari Mari district, recently left the city on 4 April. Last September, he returned to Mumbai after lockdown curbs were relaxed. “When I learnt that the government has imposed a partial lockdown in the state, I thanked God that I had left on time this time.”
Explaining how lockdown affects his life, he said: “During working hours, people won’t come to the shops, plus the state government has announced a lockdown after 8 p.m. and on the weekend.”
“Last year, it took me two months to come back. I walked halfway, empty stomach. I don’t want to take any chance this time,” said Pal, who hails from Uttar Pradesh state’s Etawah District.
“Who knows if COVID cases will keep increasing, the government may announce full lockdown,” he added.