Migrants leave home again, for work and better future

4 months ago 52
google news

MALDA: One disaster robbed them of their livelihood. Another has now provided them jobs. A section of migrants, who had returned to Bengal from Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand following the lockdown in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, has been recruited by agencies engaged to restore powerlines that were devastated by Cyclone Amphan.
Earlier this week, five buses ferried 500-odd workers from Sujapur and Kaliachak in Malda and Dhulian and Farakka in Murshidabad to Kolkata, from where they would travel to North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas to take up the repair work. Mohiuddin Sk of Fulbaria and Tafiluddin Haque of Nagharia, both major labour contractors, said they had sent workers who had earlier worked on high tension electricity transmission lines in Himachal and Uttarakhand to the cyclone-affected districts where towers and powerlines have been uprooted.
"The two cyclone-hit districts are in need of workers as hundreds of electric and mobile towers need to be restored. We have supplied workers for the job," Mohiuddin said. A group of labourers have also been sent to Meerut in UP from Malda's Nagharia. While some have hired buses, others boarded lorries to travel to their destinations. Contractors like Hasimuddin Sk of Bhagabanpur and Mujibar Ali of Bangi tola said they had used trucks to send men to Kolkata and Bihar. According to Hasimuddin, fitters get Rs 18,000 while labourers Rs 12,000 per tower in other states, which is much more lucrative than working as labourers in Bengal. When asked why they were so desperate to travel to another state within days of returning home after being stranded in other states without work for over two months, most of them said the higher wages offered elsewhere was difficult to ignore.
" We can't sit idle at home. We can survive on MNREGA, but it will only be survival. Our hopes and aspirations of a better education for our children cannot be fulfilled from earning that the scheme provides," pointed out Nur Nabi Khan. Old Malda block Mahishbathani panchayat member Salim Sk conceded that many migrant returnees who had been offered jobs in 100 days' flagship project had turned them down as it did not offer enough income.

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