Omicron: Migrants' Mass Exodus Begins Over Lockdown Fears

10 Jan, 2022 11:51 IST|Sakshi Post

Omicron: Migrants' Mass Exodus Begins Over Lockdown Fears

New Delhi: Migrant labourers, who ran out of food, struggled to obtain healthcare, and had severe livelihood issues during the previous coronavirus-induced lockdown, are returning to their home states, fearful that the weekly curfew may be turned into a lockdown as the COVID outbreak persists.

Migrant labourer Hemant Maurya has already departed for his native state, fearing a lockdown in the national capital.

"Last time, I got stuck in the national capital with my family. The duration of lockdown was extended gradually, and I faced a lot of hardship. That’s why when I heard of the curfew this time, I left the national capital," Maurya said.

He further said, "If the curfew is not extended, we will come back. Fearing lockdown, I left for home on January 6. They will face problems due to unemployment, but if life is saved, they will find some work. This time I was accompanied by four fellow labourers."

Hemant isn't the only one who has returned home; Raju, a resident of Gonda district and 33 years old, also returned home.

Raju said, "In the previous lockdown, my kids were staying with me. We did not have money and had to survive without food for one day. After borrowing money from my friend, I returned home. This time, I did not wait for anything. If the curfew is not extended, we will return."

"One of my villagemen, Vinod, has also returned along with me. COVID cases are increasing. We will think about going back when the situation becomes normal," Raju further said.

Also Read: Supreme Court To Conduct Hearings In Virtual Mode From Friday Amid Rise In Covid Cases

The daily COVID tally in Delhi has surpassed 20,000 cases in a single day. A lockdown is expected to be implemented due to an outbreak of infection, which is concerning for migrant workers.

Although the government has set night and weekend curfews to restrict COVID, migrant workers are taking no risks this time and are either preparing to return home or deciding to return.

Toufiq Ahmed, a contractor in a community in Prem Nagar, Delhi, is home to Ambedkar Nagar. He employs a large number of individuals from his community. Eight migrant labourers had already returned home before the national capital's curfew was imposed.

According to Ahmed, eight labourers have already gone home, with more on the way.

"Despite our assurance to the migrant labourers that there will be no shortage of food, they are scared," Ahmed added.

"The workers who faced hardships during previous lockdowns are frightened and are rushing to their homes. At the same time, bus fares have also increased. Earlier, a private bus from Prem Nagar to Ambedkar Nagar used to charge Rs 1,000, which has now been increased to Rs 1,200," he pointed out.

Ahmed said: "Labourers from Bihar, Gonda, and Moradabad have left for their homes. Three labourers left two days ago, and earlier, three workers left. We want them to return early, failing which, work would be affected. All the labourers who have left for their homes have not informed us when they will come back."

Many private operators, however, who sit outside Anand Vihar Bus Stand and oversee Bihar-bound vehicles, claim that the situation is dire, hence they are demanding the hefty price.

The majority of Delhi's workers are from other states. If the situation in COVID does not improve, the national capital may suffer the same issues it did during prior lockdowns.

The Kejriwal government will assess the COVID situation in Delhi on Monday (today) and decide whether or not to impose a lockdown.

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