NEW DELHI: Uncertain about securing a berth in the special trains ferrying migrant workers stranded in the national capital, hundreds of homesick labourers embark on an arduous journey to their native states in trucks or canters every day.
Despite the fact that the cost of nerve-wracking travelling, sometimes stretching to 72 hours, in private goods carrier is significantly higher than the train journey, they are preferring to take this route to avoid hassle of online ticket booking exercise and also because, transporters take them closer to their final destination.
Mohammad Tanvir, a native of Bihar’s Araria, who have seen more than 200 fellow workers off in last one week, said a passenger intends to travel to a district in Bihar or West Bengal pays between Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,500 depending on the number of people available for the trip.
"As labourers are not well-versed with the online ticket booking for trains and don’t have a bank account, it become strenuous task for them. More importantly, most of us belong to interior villages, where connectivity is an issue during lockdown. Some need to travel 200-300 km further after deboarding the train. So, taking a ride in a truck is more convenient option as mostly, the transporter leaves people just outside their villages," he said.
A couple of trucks set off with 70-100 passengers on board for Bihar and West Bengal regularly from Inderlok, Gulabi Bagh, and Shastri Park areas of north Delhi, which are close to manufacturing hubs and Sadar Bazaar. The region has high presence of inter-state migrant workers.
Vijay Kumar (name changed), who has already reached his village in Araria district, said road travel is more time consuming because lorries only ply at night. "It was a comfortable experience. We were taken to a dhaba in the morning, where we would have meals and rest throughout the day. The journey was resumed at night. We didn’t face any issue during the travel. Several were also providing free food to people who were on the road. We were screened at Bihar border then allowed to enter," he said.
However, all are not fortunate like Kumar and several others. On occasions, the transporter carries more passengers beyond the capacity of the vehicle. "The transporter promised only 70 people in the canter but he later packed 100 travellers off in the vehicle. People didn’t have option but to relent," said Mohammad Jamshed, who has also availed the services of a private transporter to reach his native place in Bihar.
As ferrying stranded migrants is turning out to be a lucrative business during lockdown, travel agents have started running buses between Delhi and various districts of Bihar to fetch locals.