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Boiled rice and salt: Bengal’s new reality as migrant workers from state see no end to lockdown woes

Sanjoy is one of 17 migrants who returned from Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to Moulipota village, a remote pocket in North 24-Pargana district’s Deganga block, during the lockdown.

Published: 14th July 2020 04:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th July 2020 10:19 AM   |  A+A-

Migrants

For representational purposes (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

KOLKATA: When Sanjoy Parui (21) returned home from Andhra Pradesh some months back, he was so weak that when he spoke, he had to pause between words. His family had only boiled rice to offer.

“We got free rice and wheat from the local ration shop. Now we have no money to buy vegetables and mustard oil to cook food. I couldn’t even afford a packet of salt,” says an emaciated Sanjoy.

Three months ago, he couldn’t imagine things would come to such a pass. It is a nightmare,’’ mutters Sanjoy, as he vacuously looks at the wetland that brimmed with fish a year ago, providing jobs to daily wagers.

Sanjoy is one of 17 migrants who returned from Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to Moulipota village, a remote pocket in North 24-Pargana district’s Deganga block, during the lockdown. As the migrant families had no savings, they had to depend on rice distributed through PDS. They are now desperate to return to their workplace.

“The average wages in Andhra Pradesh are better. I earned Rs 9,500 a month and sent Rs 5,000 for my family here. Since we returned home, I haven’t earned a single rupee. Our daily meal means a plate of boiled rice and salt. In the last one month, we haven’t tasted properly cooked food,’’ said Bijay, the only earning member in his family of six people.

Moulipota village is surrounded by wetlands where fish are reared. These wetlands are lying abandoned this year.

“The owners suffered huge losses following lockdown as they were unable to sell their produce in the absence of transport. They have no money to re-start the business,’’ said Ratan Parui, a resident of the area.

Polio survivor Sukanta Parui returned home in May from Zaveri Bazar in Mumbai along with seven others. He worked with a goldsmith and earned Rs 12,500 a month.

“My left leg became dysfunctional when I was 10. I learnt how to design gold jewellery and left for Mumbai three years ago. Now, we have no vegetables and cooking oil at home. We survive on boiled rice and salt,’’ said Sukanta.

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