SAMBALPUR: More than three lakh migrant labourers will miss out on the opportunity to vote this time. While the panchayat elections are scheduled to be held in five phases beginning February 13, most of the migrant labourers are away in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka to work and are not likely to return till June. Their plight has also failed to make it to the agenda of any political party.
Every year, about 3.5 lakhs of people from rain-fed areas migrate from Kalahandi, Balangir, Nuapada, Bargarh and Sonepur districts.
It is a way of life for the landless marginal farmers and in absence of irrigation and alternative employment opportunities, they migrate to places across India after taking advance from labour sardars, who act as middlemen and are on the prowl after Nukhai.
At least two lakh people migrate from Kanatabanji, Turekela, Bongomunda, Khaprakhol, Saintala, Belpada, Titlagarh, Deogaon and Muribahal blocks of Balangir district. Similarly, about 50,000 people migrate from blocks under Padampur sub-division, besides 40,000 from all blocks of Nuapada. Unofficially, two to three per cent of the migrants turn up to vote during polls as travelling back home would mean an additional expenditure for them, who work under inhuman conditions for two square meals a day. The former chairman of Deogaon in Panchayat Samiti, Kunti Kuanr is also a migrant.
Meanwhile, a migrant labourer, Manoj Thanapati of Deogaon block has died in Gujarat while working in a tile factory in Valsad. An industrial accident claimed his life on February 3 and since then, his family members have been staging a demonstration demanding compensation.
Manoj was working along with his brother Nruparaj and they had not been paid their salaries amounting to `90,000 for the last three months.
Soon after the death, the management of the tile factory packed off the dead body of Manoj and sent it with Nruparaj to their native village triggering protest among the villagers.