It has been days of uncertainty and anxiety for over 150 women labourers from Odisha who were stranded at a textile factory in Kerala’s Ernakulam district after they resigned their jobs in the hope of returning home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With no Shramik trains immediately available to go back to their hometowns, and no money as they had resigned from their jobs, the women were desperate for help. But ending their weeks-long uncertainty, the group has finally started their journey from Kerala, thanks to Bollywood actor Sonu Sood, who arranged a chartered flight for the women after coming to know about their plight.
The Air Asia flight from Cochin International Airport in Ernakulam district took off to Bubaneshwar in Odisha on Friday morning at 8 am. Along with 151 women who worked in KITEX Garments, nine other migrant workers from the state from Bawa Wood Industry were also on the same flight. It may possibly be the first time migrant workers are being evacuated in a chartered flight in the country.
TNM had earlier in May reported about the plight of the 151 women who were stranded in the KITEX factory. TNM had also tweeted the story to the Odisha government, who then reached out to us. TNM was able to put the Odisha government in touch with the stranded women. After coming to know about the situation of the women, actor Sonu Sood arranged the flight, with Air Asia supporting his rescue initiative. The expenses for the flight were borne by the actor.
He has been actively working to help stranded migrant workers, even launching a helpline. He also made news recently for giving up rooms in his hotel in Mumbai for health professionals to stay.
The workers were taken by surprise when they came to know on Thursday that they will be flying home. Speaking to TNM, the workers expressed happiness that they are finally returning home.
The workers were transported from the labour camps of the factories they had been staying at to the airport on Thursday night with the aid of Kochi city police Commissioner Vijay Sakhare.
According to sources, the Odisha government has given the necessary permission required for the migrant workers to get back to their home state. The flight will be arriving at Biju Patnaik International Airport in Odisha by around 10.30 am on Friday.