Back to work, many still struggle to pick up pieces | Chandigarh News
Amritsar: A year after Covid-19 wreaked havoc on people’s lives, the dust has not settled yet. Factories have closed and people have lost their jobs en masse. Most affected were migrant workers, who had no savings to fall back on.
One of them was Saroj Kumari, who had no idea how to feed her children after her husband received the pink slip. The family decided to return to their homeland, Usmanpur near Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh (UP), but struggled to make ends meet. Eventually, they decided to return to Amritsar.
“The coronavirus pandemic didn’t scare us as much as losing our jobs because we didn’t have any savings or anything to feed the family. We had never borrowed food, but now we had to queue for a free ration. Life has become miserable, ”said Saroj, who returned to Amritsar with her husband Jugi Lal in December.
As they had lived in the Putlighar region of Amritsar for over a decade and a half with their three children, they hoped that a new start would be easier here. Even though things haven’t changed much, they say they are stronger than before.
“The Covid-19 situation is almost the same as last year, the only difference is that we did not panic. We do not even plan to return to our homeland. We will live and die here, ”she said. She said the family received money from the UP government, but it was not enough for them to move on.
Raju Singh, a worker in the hosiery industry, faced a similar situation. He had lived in Amritsar for over a decade and had returned to his home village of Bharai Khurd in the UP. “On March 22, the factory closed and I was unemployed. I had nowhere to go and didn’t know how to send money home, so I also decided to go to my village.
Rejecting the UP government’s allegations of expanding financial aid and providing jobs to migrants returning to their countries of origin, Raju said, “I did not get any financial aid or jobs. After waiting a few months, I returned to Amritsar earlier this year, but the work scenario had changed here as well. Against a fixed salary, the owner of the factory hired him under contract. “Before, I earned around Rs 15,000. Now, I barely earn Rs 10,000. Covid-19 has changed my life,” he said. UP Secretary General Kalyan Parishad Rambhawan Goswami said those who returned had urgent commitments. “Only 30% to 35% of migrants who returned to their country of origin returned,” he said, adding that those who returned had financial constraints here or had children in high school, etc. factories, many had taken out loans. Those who have children in the upper classes have come back, ”he said.
Goswami said the UP government paid 1,000 rupees per person for three months in addition to giving a ration of 5 kg per person for six months. He also claimed that the UP government provided them with work under MGNREGA as well as loans on concessional terms.