Migrant exodus a concern for Gurugram’s industries

Updated on Apr 20, 2021 11:37 PM IST

Fearing an impending lockdown due to the sharp spike in Covid-19 cases, droves of workers employed in industries and construction work have started leaving fearing a repeat of last year’s situation, despite repeated assurances by the state government

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By, Gurugram

Fearing an impending lockdown due to the sharp spike in Covid-19 cases, droves of workers employed in industries and construction work have started leaving fearing a repeat of last year’s situation, despite repeated assurances by the state government. Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Tuesday that the industry in the state will not be impacted like last year.

Factory owners in Manesar and Gurugram said that at least 15 to 20% of workers have left and they expect more to leave, as the decision of the Delhi government to impose a lockdown and the enforcement of a night curfew in Gurugram triggered panic among workers.

More than 2,000 workers’ families dotted the areas in Rajiv Chowk, Khandsa and Sector 12 from where private buses to UP, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh operate. “The number of people leaving is increasing every day,” said Rakesh, an auto driver, who waits for commuters at Rajiv Chowk.,

“We are a group of 10 people living together in Patel Nagar and we work as construction workers. All of us are returning home to Darbhanga in Bihar as last year, we were left with no food to eat during the lockdown. Once the police come on the road, none will be allowed to move. We don’t want to ask for food or help,” said 20-year old Manish, adding that they will return only after the situation improves.

Workers who were queuing up to buy tickets at Rajiv Chowk said that the bus fares have more than doubled due to the demand over the last three days. “The fare was 1,000 three days ago, but now, bus operators are demanding 2,500 to 3,000 per person, which is exorbitant,” said Ritesh Kumar, a resident of Madhubani in Bihar.

A large number of workers said that they were returning home to attend weddings, but admitted that the economic difficulties faced last year played a part in their decision. “If there is a lockdown, then the salary would stop but expenses such as rent, food, and other things won’t stop. It is difficult to depend on government machinery in such a situation,” said Brahmdeep Kumar, of Supaul in Bihar.

Industry owners in Gurugram and Manesar said that the government must reassure workers that there would no lockdown. “Around 30% of the workers in my unit left yesterday without any intimation and another 20% of them are preparing to leave,” said Dinesh Sharma, a garment unit owner, adding that they will not be able to fulfil existing orders.

Manmohan Gaind, the vice-president of Manesar Industries Welfare Association, said that workers were affected by their experiences during last year’s lockdown. “The industrial output is going to dip further if this labour migration is not stopped. The closure of markets in Delhi has also stopped raw material supply and lack of workers will further hit industry badly,” he said.

Pawan Yadav, the president, IMT Industrial Association, said that workers should not panic and the industry will support them if a difficult situation arises. “We will soon be reaching out to workers to motivate them to stay as the Haryana government has repeatedly said that there would no lockdown,” he said.

Industrialists in Udyog Vihar said that apart from the migration of workers, the industry was badly hit as workers and executives from Delhi were unable to commute. “Many unit owners have complained to us that workers are unable to come and that movement passes are difficult to get in Delhi,” said Ashok Kohli, president, Chamber of Industries, Udyog Vihar.

Taking cognizance of the problems faced by industrial workers, Khattar, who addressed the people in the state on Tuesday evening, appealed to migrant workers to not panic and said that the economic cycle will not be allowed to stop on the lines of 2020. “Economic activity will continue in the state and there would be no lockdown as it hurts workers who earn 10,000 to 15,000 monthly. If they lose a job they have to find a new one and it is very difficult. The economic activities will not be stopped and we will ensure the industry remains functional in all circumstances,” said Khattar.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Abhishek Behl is principal correspondent, Hindustan Times in Gurgaon Bureau. He covers infrastructure, planning and civic agencies in the city. He has been covering Gurgaon as correspondent for the last 10 years, and has written extensively on the city.

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