200 migrant workers in Chennai try to hitch ride home, sent back from Andhra border

The majority of the workforce in most construction sites in Chennai are migrant workers from Bihar, Odisha, Bengal, Andhra and Telangana.

Published: 27th March 2020 06:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th March 2020 06:12 PM   |  A+A-

Migrant workers make their journey home on foot. (Photo| EPS/  R V K Rao)

Migrant workers make their journey home on foot. (Photo| EPS/ R V K Rao)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: With rail and bus connectivity being cut during the ongoing lockdown, migrant workers working in construction sites have been left in the lurch and are left with no alternative but to hitch rides in trucks to reach their hometowns.

But this also has limitations with inter-state and district border controls in place. Recalling his plight, Raja (name changed), a daily wage worker at a construction site along with 54 others, most of them from Vishakapatnam, tried to sneak across the Andhra border to reach home.


"We took a truck on its way to Andhra from Red Hills. But at the toll gate, Andhra cops refused us entry. The local officials then took us to Vanagaram fish market where we are being provided with food," he says.

There are a total of 200 migrant workers who have been holed up in Vanagaram fish market after being denied entry to the Andhra border. District officials who later rescued them refused to provide any details. Most of the migrants knew only Telugu with few knowing Tamil.

A developer, who has a sizeable number of migrant labour working for his projects, says, "After the rail services came to a standstill, these workers have nowhere to go. I am managing them by providing them with temporary accomodation and food. This is a big challenge for me," he says.

The majority of the workforce in most construction sites in Chennai are migrant workers from Bihar, Odisha, Bengal, Andhra and Telangana.

By the very nature of their transmigration, these people are provided accommodation in the site itself or in nearby areas. For some, the labour contractor also provides accommodation.

S Sridharan, chairman of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI) Tamil Nadu, told Express that workers working under CREDAI developers' sites are being monitored and taken good care of. The workers are provided with food and sanitation. "I have also talked to top government officials to provide them with parcels also," he said.

DR Kumar, chairman and managing director, Navin's group, says the temporary accommodation is basic in nature and provided with drinking water, toilets etc. for their day to day needs.  

After the outbreak of Covid19, workers are provided with soap and have been advised to frequently wash their hands. "After the curtailment of construction activities, they are also provided with Rs 100 head per day for their food.

The state government has announced a relief package for migrant workers. Details of migrant labour in construction sites are being sent to the government by the construction industry, he says.  

Eshwar N, chief marketing officer, CASAGRAND, says they have stopped all construction related activities and all contract workers and labourers are being provided with basic daily wages and accommodation on site.

He said all employees have been given paid leave until further notice, adding that essential staff executing critical functions like addressing customer queries, accounting staff who are needed to execute critical functions like distribution of salaries and wages and HRs have been enabled to work remotely.

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