Kendrapara, May 14(LocalWire): Abhaya Munda, 40, of Mahasamund in Chhattisgarh, travelled to Haladiagada, along with his family, five months ago, to earn a living in a brick-kiln.
The owner of the brick kiln provided them with wages for a month even after the lockdown, in lieu of their brick making work.
However, last week, the owner refused to give them wages as the brick making work was also halted during the lockdown, as a result of which they are left stranded.
Stranded without work for a week and evicted from their makeshift hut near the brick kiln, Abhaya and his family members had no alternative but to walk on the road braving the scorching sun to reach their village around 700 kilometers from their workplace.
“How can we stay back after the owner told us to go to our village? It would take two weeks for us to reach our village,” said Abhaya.
“Police stopped us at Panchpandab for few minutes on 12 May but they allowed us to move after knowing about our sorry plight.
We are not afraid of coronavirus. Now hunger is a threat to us,” added Abhaya.
As large numbers of migrant workers continue their journey, more are also likely to die because of hunger and road than from COVID-19, said Umi Daniel the director Migration and Education Aide et Action.
“Many states are not strictly implementing the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, as a result the sorry plight of the migrant workers is yet to be abated during the period of the lockdown.
The Act’s purpose is to protect workers whose services are requisitioned outside their native states in India. Whenever an employer faces shortage of skills among the locally available workers, the act creates provision to employ better skilled workers available outside the state,” added Daniel.
Ramachandra Nayak, the District Labour Officer (DLO) of Kendrapara said, “The government has directed us to take legal action against the employers who retrenched workers and evicted them from their workplaces.
After getting complaints, we will initiate legal action against the employers”.