Lakhs of migrant workers in Surat desperate to return to their native states

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Published: April 30, 2020 1:10 AM

Many workers have moved to their homes, but those who are still in Surat are desperate to move out of Gujarat, as the number of corona positive cases is rapidly surging.

As a result, local industries associations have requested authorities to make transportation arrangements for workers so that they can safely reach to their home states. (File image)As a result, local industries associations have requested authorities to make transportation arrangements for workers so that they can safely reach to their home states. (File image)

In anticipation of continuation of the lockdown in Surat, coupled with increasing cases of Covid-19, lakhs of migrant workers employed in the textile and diamond units situated in and around the city have become desperate to go back to their native places.

Migrant labourers belonging to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and other states are without work for over a month. Moreover, most of them are residing in congested localities of Surat which are obviously not safe as it is almost impossible to follow social distancing norms. As a result, local industries associations have requested authorities to make transportation arrangements for workers so that they can safely reach to their home states.

Responding to migrant workers’ request, Surat district collector Dhaval Patel has given permission for a few buses to ferry labourers to their home states. “We have decided to give each worker Rs 1,000 and dry snacks once they board buses. Industry leaders have met police officers and appraise them about the ground reality and the problem being faced by labourers,” said Jitendra Vakharia, president of the South Gujarat Textile Processors Association, adding that there is no hope of recommencement of work in near future.

According to Vakharia, it is important to wear masks and keep social distancing to protect oneself from Covid-19 virus, but in congested localities where labourers are residing it is difficult to follow these norms. Over eight lakh people are working in the textile industry of Surat. According to an estimate, the annual turnover of the industry is over Rs 40,000 crore.

Various diamond associations have also met local authorities to make arrangements for migrant workers. Many workers have moved to their homes, but those who are still in Surat are desperate to move out of Gujarat, as the number of corona positive cases is rapidly surging.

The Surat Diamond Association has made representations to district administration, local MLAs and even the state government to make arrangements for workers, said Babubhai Kathiria, president of the association. With annual turnover of nearly Rs 90,000 crore, the diamond industry of Surat is providing employment to over 10 lakh people.

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