Mumbai: One year later, jobless daily wagers, migrants leave for villages again | Mumbai News – Times of India

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MUMBAI: A year ago, 40-year old zari worker Shaligram Yadav had fled the lockdown after spending Rs 3,000 for a spot on a packed bus headed from Mumbai to Sultanpur. On Monday, the middle-aged tailor was among those jostling for a seat on the Faizabad-bound train pulling out of Kurla station.
Yadav earned barely anything last year. The family mostly lived off the crop on their field. He returned to the zari unit in Mankhurd in November 2020. In five months, though, he was back to square one.
“Last night, the seth told us that our tailoring unit is shutting down and we have to go home. I borrowed Rs 700 from a friend and bought a train ticket in black,” said Shaligram.
With the Maharashtra government shutting shops, restaurants, markets and private offices as part of its lockdown-style restrictions to battle the second wave of the pandemic, it’s daily wagers who are worst hit. Many of them are migrants left without money or shelter in this expensive city. Their only option is to make the uncertain journey back to a precarious life in the village.
Sitting next to Shaligram in the train bogey is Rajesh Rajput who was employed in a flower shop serving the iconic Siddhivinayak temple. “I used to earn Rs 500 a day in the shop but now there is no work left,” says Rajput who is heading back to Banda district in UP. He can no longer afford to pay rent worth Rs 3,000 a month for the shanty in Prabhadevi, which he shared with his others from his hometown.
Auto driver Binay Choudhary says the two-passenger rule in auto-rickshaws, part of the new restrictions, was the last straw. “Over the last month when the cases started rising and people stopped venturing out, my earnings fell. Now with this new rule, the earnings through shared-autos will also fall,” he said.
Instead, he plans to return to his village and try and earn during the harvest season. “At least I can earn Rs 200-300 per day as long as the season lasts,” he says.
Binay had just enough money left to buy the train ticket. “I used to earn Rs 15,000 a month but by the end of it, I was just breaking even and had no savings,” he says.
Some, like electrician Subhash Chandra Yadav decided to leave because their earnings had plummeted even though work was available.
“I used to earn Rs 600 per day doing odd-jobs for building contractors but since March, my earnings had come down to just around Rs 300-350 per day. After the new rules, I will earn even less,” says Yadav who is headed back to Jaunpur in UP. Will he return to Mumbai? “Of course, we will all be back. After the harvest ends, there will be no work back home.”

03:11With the fear of a second complete lockdown in Maharashtra, migrant workers leave Mumbai



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