Over 300 migrant labourers from Bihar are stranded in Erode district's SIPCOT industrial area, desperate to go back to their hometown. The labourers, who last received ration from the district administration close to a month back, have run out of supplies and money to sustain themselves any longer.
"I have been working here for four years at Tamil Kumar, an engineering company, " says 25-year-old Bittu Kumar. "But after the lockdown was imposed, the company has given us neither food nor money to sustain ourselves. We got rations through the government about a month ago. But that too is over and now we are spending whatever little money we have left, to buy food from shops nearby," he adds.
The migrants who largely belong to Bihar are stranded in Kambiliampatti and work in textile and engineering units in SIPCOT.
Speaking to TNM, Ekta Viiveck Verma, a social activist who is helping the migrants coordinate with the government, says, "They have been stuck in Erode for two months after the lockdown now but panic is rising because other migrants have begun to leave. Both the Bihar government and the Tamil Nadu government have not taken the necessary measures to help ease this panic."
Ekta has already written to the state government and district administration on Tuesday, but is yet to receive a response. She points out that clear communication and counselling for the migrants is crucial at times like this and will help them gain confidence in authorities.
"When authorities visited us on Thursday, they promised to help us leave in three days," says Bittu. "But we don't know if this will happen. We are already borrowing money from our villages. We do not want any charity. We just want a way to go home. Our companies too, have abandoned us. We don't know where to go."
When TNM contacted the district administration to convey the distress of the labourers, Public Relations Officer Satish promised that help would reach them and that trains were already leaving Erode district with over 1000 migrants on Wednesday.
The Erode Collector Kathiravan, however, could not be reached for comment.