GUWAHATI, May 14 - Notwithstanding government interventions towards facilitating return journeys for those stuck outside the State during the lockdown, a vast segment of disadvantaged migrant workers continues to languish for want of support from the authorities.
Their woes are compounded by the fact that they no longer have jobs and their little savings are exhausted. Even the toll-free helpline that has effectively served many stranded across the country has failed to reach some such most vulnerable segments.
The plight of 500-odd workers from Assam engaged with a battery manufacturing unit of Exide Industries Limited at Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu exemplifies the agony of the stranded who have now exhausted the little means from the local authorities and are desperate to return home.
The workers said they had been without salary immediately after the lockdown.
Narrating their harrowing ordeal, Dipak Nath, one of the workers, told The Assam Tribune that the pangs of hunger and humiliation were getting too overbearing for them since the past couple of weeks.
�Since the lockdown had started we got 15 kg rice, 1 kg dal and one litre oil from the Tamil Nadu government as one-time assistance but once that got exhausted, things worsened manifold. Our little savings also got exhausted and now shopkeepers are unwilling to give essentials on credit,� he added.
Ruing that only about one-fifth of the workers based there got the announced financial assistance from the Assam government by way of bank account transfer, Nath said many could not elicit any response from the helpline due to technical issues.
Sometimes the helpline asked them to contact the local authorities only. As the chemical factory is located in a remote area of the State, transportation bottlenecks have further compounded their woes.
The workers have also uploaded a video of their plight in social media.
According to Nath, 200 of the workers stuck up near the industrial unit are from Raha in Nagaon district of Assam. Nath, also from Raha, graduated in 2014 and has been working there since.
�We are desperate to be back with our families but we have no money to buy train tickets. There is a clear gap between the government�s announcements and delivery on the ground. Matters have not been helped by the fact that the Tamil Nadu officials speak only English and Tamil. We tried to take up things with Assam government authorities but to no avail,� Nath said, adding that their families were also largely dependent on them for living.
Pointing out that many of their colleagues from other states were facilitated bus journeys following intervention by their respective state governments, Nath said the Assam government should also adopt a similar approach.
�Most of our co-workers are gone now with the help of their authorities. If the Assam government is serious about our return, it should reach out to us. If we are not taken out of this place, we could even die of hunger,� he said.