Very frankly I’m not in contact with the migrants who are living in the worst conditions. Most of the people I talked to in Dharavi, I talked to 7-8 groups till now, it’s not that they are starving. They are getting cooked food from religious organisations and NGOs. But the people I’m talking to are frustrated. They are feeling stuck. If you want to understand their situation, you need to understand their motive.
My own connection to the rural areas, I belong to Nalanda district of Bihar, I see what they are saying. I also came here to make money and have some sort of objective in my mind. Their mindset is not in their position where they can think that ‘ah I can spend some of my savings and all’.
Since their earnings were already very low, they are living in very tough conditions, 7-8 people in a room, that is because they want to save more. So they stay in a single room, group size. So what I’ve felt talking to them, they all want to go back, because their purpose is not getting fulfilled, of saving money. That is what they are asking us.”
Many stranded migrants are doing much worse, but even the stranded migrants who are doing relatively well have serious concerns. We’ve also heard that their families in their home states are in great difficulty. They had been relying on income from the migrant labour, but now instead of money coming into the home it has been going out. With migrants starting to return home, we are starting to hear the foreshadowing of a stage of the crisis which is poised to hit even more people, and even harder.