For Bengal’s migrant workers back from other states, Cyclone Amphan is a nightmare
A week ago, more than 100 migrant workers had returned to Haroa, in Basirhat sub-division of North 24-Parganas district, from the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra. 32-year-old Jasimuddin Islam, a resident of Biswanathpur who has a family of four, found his place at a quarantine centre after coming back from Tamil Nadu, walking and hitchhiking. His yearning to reach home became unbearable on Thursday after hearing that Cyclone Amphan had left their tiled-roofed, brick-built house completely grounded.
“I broke into tears on hearing the news. Everything is over. The job is gone. Whatever I had earned has been spent during our stay in Tamil Nadu and the return journey. And now the roof above the family’s head is also gone,” said Islam.
At Karanjali area in South 24-Parganas, dozens of migrant workers returned from Maharashtra on Friday morning, only to know that their home and their ponds had been devastated.
“I returned virtually penniless and now even my home is gone,” said Maheshwar Biswas, a migrant worker in Karanjali area who took work as a mason in Maharashtra.
At Sagar and Gosaba area in South 24-Parganas, and Sandeshkhali and Hingalganj in North 24-Pasrganas a number of cyclone centres had been turned into quarantine centres for suspected Covid-19 carriers, especially migrant workers who recently returned from other states. More than 5,000 migrant workers had returned to the Kakdwip and Canning sub-divisions of South 24-Parganas district.
“I couldn’t stand the scene when migrant workers who are presently at quarantine centres broke into tears after hearing that their houses had been grounded by the cyclone. We have no words to console them,” said Sandeshkhali MLA Sukumar Mahato.
Some of the migrant workers, like Osman Mallick and Biswanath Talukdar of Minakhan in North 24-Parganas, who had been allowed to go home after completing the period of institutional quarantine, had to leave home again, this time for cyclone centres in schools. The storm has left their homes uninhabitable.
“We have no job, no money, no savings and no home. Where do we go?” said Bidyut Sardar, a resident of Sarabaria village in Minakhan who returned from Karnataka about two weeks ago.
Jaynagar’s Lok Sabha MP Pratima Mandal said that the crisis faced by migrant workers living in cyclone-hit areas was “of great magnitude”.
“The more news of such losses are coming in, the more helpless we are feeling. There are hundreds of them who have lost everything and we don’t yet know how much relief we can offer them,” Mandal said.