As the ten-day Ganesh festival comes to an end and Mumbai prepares to return to work, migrants who had returned to Uttar Pradesh are also to return to work in the ‘maximum city’.
‘I have spent two months in my home in Bahraich but could not find any suitable work for myself. I was working as a house manager in the home of a senior executive in Navi Mumbai. There is no such work here and I cannot dig drains under MGNREGA. My employer has called me twice and I will return to Mumbai this week,” said Harikesh, 38.
Ranjan Prasad, a technician in an air-conditioning firm in Mumbai, had come home for Holi but got stuck in Uttar Pradesh due to the lockdown. His firm has reopened and he says he is returning to ensure a better life and education for his children.
“Yes, the corona scare continues, but now I feel that it is better to die of corona than hunger. If I do not return to work, how will my family subsist?” he asked.
He said that Mumbai, according to his friends there, was ready to return to work in full force after the Ganpati festival and there would be no shortage of work.
“This time, I will make sure that I remain prepared for another situation like the lockdown. I will save money and stock up on essential commodities,” said Prasad.
Noor Mohammad, Vishwas Kumar and Raju Pathak, all residents of Barabanki district, were working as tailors in a garment factory in Mumbai.
They returned home with the help of actor Sonu Sood.
“We are going back this week. First, we will go to pay our respects to Sonu Sood and then get back to work,” said Vishwas.
Asked why they did not want to stay back in Uttar Pradesh, Raju Pathak said, “We have heard that the government has announced several schemes but there is still nothing on the ground. We earn around Rs 18,000 per month in Mumbai. Who will give us this amount in Uttar Pradesh?”
Sriram, a mason from Chandauli, said that he is also returning to Ahmedabad where he was working in a real estate firm. “The construction business in eastern Uttar Pradesh is yet to get back on the rails. My employer has sent me a message asking me to return. I will be going back later this week,” he said.
Another migrant Naveen, 32, who had walked more than 600 kilometres from Punjab during the lockdown, is also ready to return to work there.
“There is good money in Mumbai, but I will not be able to manage here. Even if schemes are being taken out, they are not reaching us. It is like being unemployed. There is no work here. You go to anyone and they say there is no work,” said Naveen who works in Amritsar as a motor mechanic.