A group of 60 migrant workers landed at the airport a few days ago on a flight from Patna, strengthening a developing trend of workers ‘flying down’ to resume jobs they had lost during the lockdown or find new ones. All 60 were first-time flyers and had left Bengaluru on a Shramik train. Flights were funded by builders desperate to complete over 500 projects in the city.
On May 18, Minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal appealed to migrant workers to stay where they were, as the railways planned to double the number of Shramik Trains to 400 per day in two days. He also said that an additional 200 non-AC trains would be operational by June 1. While this increased capacity is a welcome sign, will it be enough to service Bengaluru’s stranded workers?
A large number of Bengaluru’s workers are walking thousands of kilometres to their home states, as the efforts of the governments to arrange transportation has fallen short of the exploding demand. “The Labour Department is reporting one lakh online registrations of inter-state travellers from Karnataka on the Seva Sindhu website every day,” says Priyanka Panigrahi, who volunteers with ‘WithBengaluru’, an initiative to support the city’s vulnerable groups.
As on May 20, over five lakh workers had registered on the Labour Department’s Seva Sindhu website desiring to return to their home states, according to AICCTU (All India Central Council of Trade Unions) Karnataka.