How do we survive, ask migrant workers

Coronavirus lockdown hits the unorganised sector hard

Published: 27th March 2020 06:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th March 2020 06:39 AM   |  A+A-

The coronavirus scare has hit construction activity in Bengaluru | Express

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Waiting around construction sites, sitting on granite stones without any work, several workers in the city are worried about their future. Some have been given a meagre amount to head back home, but with borders closed, they are stranded in the city with limited resources.

“The contractor has said, ‘If there is no work, there is no money. His phone is switched off’ ...  There is no access to drinking water, we are drinking water that is used for construction at our site...” This is the plight of several migrant construction workers in the wake of the 21-day lockdown.

In its study, Maraa, a Bengaluru-based media and arts collective, learnt from pourakarmikas, labourers who work in construction, garment factories and at Metro projects, that they don’t know how to survive in these tough times.

“A large section of our population is caught in the crossfire between the threat of the virus, exploitative contractors, inadequate support from the government and public apathy. Even amidst a pandemic, social divides and inequalities of class and caste continue to deepen,” Maraa notes in its report based on anecdotal evidence gathered between March 22 and 26.

As per the report, several workers who tried to go back home were unsuccessful as the trains were cancelled or were overcrowded, the report noted. They foresee a grim picture in labour colonies across the city that house about 200 people each in crammed conditions.

Domestic workers face the same predicament. They purchase their daily necessities such as vegetables from street vendors, who are no longer allowed to sell. Garment workers were told factories would be closed for a week, but were given no intimation regarding payments for April.

Senior citizens from the vulnerable sections, who depend on Indira Canteens for their meals, are forced to find alternatives.

While the situation looks grim for the informal and unorganised sector,  a former IAS officer, researchers, professors and a former adviser to the Supreme Court on food security, have proposed door delivery system to each and every house, including shanties where people live, and which would cover these migrant workers.

They have demanded that a task force be set up to handle food security, and urged the government to collaborate with NGOs to ensure that even the elderly living alone, orphan children, street vendors and the immobile are fed.

Look into food security for daily-wage labourers, HC to state govt
Bengaluru: Taking note of serious concerns expressed in letters addressed to the Karnataka Chief Justice and the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority by some organisations, the High Court on Thursday directed the state government to look into lack of food security for daily-wage labourers, migrant workers and homeless people during the lockdown period.

At a special sitting convened on receiving the letters, a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice BV Nagarathna directed the Registry to forward copies of the letters to the Advocate-General as well as the Chief Secretary by e-mail or WhatsApp for necessary action.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp