Migrant workers face bleak future back home

Jaipur: Shravan Das, back home in Nagpur district after the lockdown, is worried. He has a family of six to take care of and there are no jobs in sight.

It’s a big crisis. I don’t know what will happen in the future, he says, reflecting the state of lakhs of migrant workers, now jobless.

Das, 42, worked as a cook in Pune for the past eight months, earning Rs 20,000 per month. He returned to Merta Road town a month back.

“There is no work here. I can’t go for MGNREGA. I can’t find anything like a cook’s job here.

It’s a big crisis, he repeats.

“My daughters are of marriageable age. These troubles shouldn’t have come at least at this time, he says.

Apart from the two daughters Shravan Das has two sons. He doesn’t know whether he will be able to return to his previous job in Maharashtra.

His wife has registered herself under MGNREGA, the rural employment guarantee scheme, but her turn hasn’t come yet. He has no information yet of any other government help or loan he can seek.

According to government data, over four lakh migrants had come home to Rajasthan up to last week. They had been working in Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and other states.

Khemraj Gaur, 45, returned to Bundel village, also in Nagaur. He went to Pune nearly 23 years ago and was in the catering trade.

“The catering work was doing well. We were a team of 14-15 people, everyone made a decent living, he says. He now relies on the MGNREGA, but says it provides only a limited income.

True, the lockdown is now over. But when will the situation return to normal, businesses resume? It is a big question, he says.

Gaur and his wife have three school-going children.

Jugal Kishore, worked at a sweet shop in Chennai, and is now in the family’s Didwana village.

“What to do? There was no work there, everything is at standstill here as well. I am sitting at home for the past one month, he says. Don’t know how long this will last.”

He was in Chennai for 15 years, and had never been jobless for so long before. His eldest son is 23-year-old, followed by 20-year-old and the youngest is just eight. The family has a small piece of land in the village.

The state government has said it will employ such workers under MGNREGA. Job cards have also been issued for 1.77 lakh workers. A “Raj Kaushal Rajasthan Employment Exchange” is also being set up to find jobs for skilled workers in industries.

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