BENGALURU: The cash-strapped Karnataka government seems to be desperate to raise revenue. Workers who have been waiting for more than a month now to return to their hometowns have to pay a whopping 120 per cent more than the regular fare. For instance, if a family of four has to travel to Bidar, then they have to pay an amount of Rs 7,936 to take a KSRTC bus to travel. But this is not all. They have to also ensure that they get another 26 passengers travelling to Bidar with them and all of them will have to then divide the amount among themselves and hire a bus to their hometown.
“All that we are asking them is to ensure they are a group of 30 and have to divide Rs 39 per km (one way) for both ways and hire a bus to reach their hometown,” said BT Prabhakar Reddy, Bengaluru Divisional Controller of KSRTC. However, several labourers who were waiting for days together to get back home were disappointed and sought help from the Chief Minister’s Office.
Sharanappa, who did not have even Rs 500 with him but has to take his family of 12 to Yadgiri said, “I have to pay Rs 16,932 to go back to my village. How will I raise so much money? If we had money or work then why would we want to go back? Please help us.” Meanwhile, public health activists who have been working for the rights of migrant labourers also expressed unhappiness on how the government has been treating the migrants since the beginning of the lockdown. Dr Silvia Karpagam, Public health said, “The way the government is acting is really cruel.
They imposed the lockdown without any arrangements for these people. Labourers were at least leading a dignified life with whatever little income they had. Now, they are being treated like beggars. What kind of system is this? You take away from them every possible way to reach their homes and then fleece them like this?” However, Prabhakar Reddy said that government had provided free of cost travel for almost 25 buses till Thursday. “Only from Friday we have asked them to bear the charges. There were many common people who tried to misuse the free service and travel as labourers. Hence, we had to take some measures. The department also has to bear the charges and needs money,” he said.