Labourers fear another lockdown, many plan to leave Pune city
Health minister Rajesh Tope has clarified that lockdown will be the last option before the state tries other restrictions to curb the surge in Covid cases
As the state government is planning to impose stricter restrictions in the coming days, it has an adverse impact on the labourers in the city.
Due to the fear of another lockdown, even as the state government has clarified of no complete closure, several migrant workers who had returned to Pune at construction sites and small industries earlier are planning to go back to the native places.
Most of these labourers come from North Indian states and in the last couple of weeks there has been a drastic increase in the number of passengers travelling from Pune to North India, a reflection of it was seen through the increase in passengers travelling in the north-bound trains at Pune railway station.
“We have seen a considerable amount of increase in the number of daily passengers travelling through various trains starting from Pune going towards North India. It includes - Pune to Patna, Pune to Lucknow, Pune to Jhelum and others,” said Manoj Jhawar, Pune railway division spokesperson.
The developers too reported some workers either planning to leave or already left the city even as numbers are small at this point.
“Work is underway at our construction site at Ambegaon and it resumed in August last year when most of our workers returned back from their villages in North India. For the last four to five months work was progressing smoothly, but since the first week of March when the Covid cases started increasing, a fear of infection and now lockdown has started impacting labourers. Of the 40 labourers, 15 of them have left for their hometowns in Bihar last week and we are somehow managing the work at the site,” said Anant Shinde, a builder from the Katraj.
Similar is the situation with the small scale industries in and around Pune. Abhay Bhore, state president of Forum of Small Scale Industries Association, said, “There is already a major impact on the business of small scale industries, as 50 per cent of work has reduced. Amid this, workers are now planning to leave for their hometowns due to the fear of lockdown in Maharashtra. Some of them who have stayed back are waiting for work and to earn money.”
The fear of lockdown among workers and traders increased after Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray asked the administration to prepare for lockdown. As the fear grew, health minister Rajesh Tope clarified that lockdown will be the last option before the state tries other restrictions.
Suhas Merchant, president of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (Credai)-Pune Metro, said, “If a lockdown is imposed it will majorly impact the work at construction sites. If there is a lockdown imposed for eight to ten days then its effect on construct sites will remain for two to three months. It is not a manufacturing industry and it is a human process, once you stop work then it again takes time to bring all things back and mobilise which takes two months. So we have already requested state government to allow work at construction sites.”
“Amid a surge in Covid cases if a lockdown is imposed we are ready to take care of our workers, as it won’t be for many days,” he said.