Mumbai: Migrants rush to return to hometowns
Amid the stringent curbs, migrant workers across Mumbai are forming a beeline to return to their native states, with huge crowds seen outside Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) on Tuesday afternoon. Railway authorities, however, maintained crowding was due to people travelling outside the city during summer vacation.
Both Central and Western Railway are allowing only travellers who have booked the tickets in advance due to Covid-19 rules.
The zonal railways are operating daily additional special outstation trains towards North India, including Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Assam. The Western Railway is also likely to operate a few special trains towards different destinations in North India.
“The crowd at LTT, Kurla isn’t something very unusual. It is a routine summer season rush. Today, a total of 23 trains are scheduled to depart from LTT, of which 16 are either north-bound or east-bound. Of these 16, five are summer special trains.” said Shivaji Sutar, chief public relations officer, Central Railway.
The city is also witnessing queues at outstation bus stops. Many workers fear loss of jobs, along with the trouble they went through during the 2020 lockdown, when many had to start walking to reach their hometowns.
Noor Alam, who works as a salesman in a garment shop at Kurla, said, “Last year I had to wait for a month to board the train operated specially for migrant workers. I know the troubles I faced and how I survived with very little money. My friends have already left for their native places and even I am planning to do so shortly.”
Autorickshaw driver Nilesh Kadam was desperately trying to get a bus ticket to Kankavali in Konkan. “I am hardly able to get one passenger daily from the international airport and with the lockdown, there is no way I can survive. In my village, at least I will be able to fulfil my basic needs,” said Kadam.
Many private transport operators are running buses to places like Rajasthan, Uttarakand, Gujarat and even Uttar Pradesh. “As I am not getting train tickets, I plan to go to Uttarakhand by bus,” said Shivani Aswal, a saleswoman who is working in a cosmetics store in Andheri. “Though it will take at least four days, it is better than staying in lockdown in Mumbai.”
Of the 350 workers at Angrezi Dhaba, which has seven outlets in Mumbai, 250 have returned. “We offered to pay them half the salary if they stayed back, but they were adamant to return. There was a lot of pressure from their families back home,” said Raj Sadvikar, co-founder and partner, Angrezi Dhaba.
“There is no way we can stop them, but we are worried about how to bring them back once the situation normalises. It’s going to be tough,” said Mohan Gurnani, chairman, Chamber of Associations of Maharashtra Industries and Trade (CAMIT).