Saturday, June 06, 2020

Odisha government airlifts over 360 migrant workers stranded in Jammu

Jammu: Bansi Gouda, of Odisha's Jagannath, is flying for the first time in his life, but he is not nervous about it.

"All these months, I and my family had been waiting for this day. We had never ever imagined, even in our wildest dreams, that we will be going home by air," exclaimed Gouda with a broad smile on his face.

For Gouda and other 360 migrant workers, who boarded Air India flight from Jammu to Odisha, it was a moment of relief after three harrowing months of lockdown.

At a time when migrant workers are being forced to cover miles on foot to reach home, this development is one of the rare positive happenings for migrants in India.

Lending helping hand to stuck up migrant labourers, the Odisha government decided to airlift them from Jammu to their respective destination. Entire expenditure of air tickets and other arrangements will be borne by the Odisha government.

"Flight is being sponsored by the Odisha government. While we have provided state road transport buses to ferry these labourers to airport," informed Tahir Ahmad, additional deputy commissioner, Jammu.

With India locked down over the coronavirus and no way to earn money, migrant workers faced a grim choice: either walk home or die hungry. Millions of migrant workers were left jobless and penniless by the full shutdown in the country, that sparked an exodus from major cities.

With blisters on their feet, belongings slung on their shoulders, many of walked hundreds of miles to reach home. Some had happy ending while others ended in grief.

The Odisha government's decision to airlift these migrant labourers has come as a big respite for these people.
Most of them had been battling unemployment, poverty and hunger as ventures in the unorganised sector came to a standstill due to lockdown.
06/06/20 Pradeep Dutta/

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