COVID-19 in UP: No Food, No Money, No MGNREGA Work, Second Wave Forcing Migrant Workers to Die by Suicide -Abdul Alim Jafri
According to union leaders, due to the panchayat polls from April to May in Uttar Pradesh, there was a halt in MGNREGS work, and the demand for labourers further slumped due to the complete lockdown that followed soon after.
Lucknow: Brindaban Banjara (40), a security in-charge at Paragon footwear in Nangloi area of Delhi used to earn Rs 22,000 per month before the pandemic hit. But, within a span of three months, his life was upturned. While his family somehow survived by borrowing money from local moneylenders – at an exorbitant interest rate of 5% and earning enough for one meal through odd jobs in the village during the first wave, the second wave of pandemic has dwindled his earnings to zero, he said.
A native of Banda district, which reportedly sees the highest rates of migration in the country, Banjara added that the ration distributed through the Public Distribution System (PDS) in the village is highly inadequate and that they cannot rely on the government for anything.
"Khane ko ghar me kuch nahi hai, sarkar kuch kar nahi rahi hai, chori kare ab khane ke liye? (There is nothing to eat in the house, the government is not doing anything either. Should we take to stealing to eat?)," a distraught Banjara told NewsClick, adding that they are wandering from door to door in search of employment in the village but no one really cares.
"Five kg of wheat and the same amount of rice is being distributed per month by ration distributors. How will one survive in such less ration? It seems that even if we survive the pandemic, hunger will kill us soon," he claimed.
A similar ordeal was narrated by Saleem, a labourer at a chemical-making unit in Surat, who had returned to his village along with his friends after the factory owners deserted them. "The harsh reality is that migrant workers are nobody’s concern. We have no money, no food and the government has left us on our own. What should we do? In my village, scores of labourers have started begging door to door as there is no ration left at home," he said, his voice emotional.
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Newsclick.in, 9 June, 2021, https://www.newsclick.in/COVID-19-UP-no-food-no-money-no-MGNREGA-work-second%20Wave-forcing-migrant-workers-die-suicide