“All the others are leaving. I’m left behind because I have no money.”
The lady told our volunteer covering Mumbai. She had been staying with 27 other migrant workers. They had all decided to go home to Jharkhand, and had found a bus. But the bus driver demanded Rs. 8000 each. This is a huge amount of money; the average wage of workers who call us is only Rs. 390 per day. Many are having to have money sent from back home, but for many others savings have already run dry if they ever existed at all. After all, they left to find work in the city. The money is supposed to go from the migrant worker back to the home and not vice-versa.
We’ve been hearing of these outrageous sums of lakhs per bus from several sources today. These buses are being arranged by informal word of mouth. There are no travel agents with offices. There are no tickets. There’s a huge range of prices.
Our volunteer got the number of one of the lady’s co-workers, and called them up. They had managed to find a truck which was going to Jharkhand anyway. It wasn’t a bus, but it would be cheaper, only a few thousand each. This is still a huge blow to their financial situation, and they would be very unusual if they could find work at home to recoup the losses.
The Maharashtra government has promised some 21 crores to ensure the safe travel of departing stranded workers.
After discussion with our volunteer, the 27 workers decided to stay a few days to see if they could get a place on a train. They are placing their trust in the Maharashtra government to deliver on its promises.