CHENNAI: The lockdown has taken a toll on the health of migrant workers living at a site in Vanagaram, with one of them suffering from depression and in need of medical assistance.
Akaladev Sahni of Begusarai in Bihar has been mentally ill for many days. "He keeps silent and it takes five workers to take him to the restroom to carry out his daily ablutions. He is in need of healthcare. But nobody listens," says Biswajit Chauhan from Kutinagar in Uttar Pradesh.
He added that Fomra Infrastructure, the company for which they are working, is not paying heed to their demands.
More than 150 workers had come out of the site and sat on a protest over the lack of adequate food supplies during the second phase of the lockdown and the non-payment of March salaries.
The protest attracted cops who immediately tried to calm them down and sent them back to their camp. A police official told The New Indian Express that the workers wanted to go home after the announcement by the government to facilitate their travel.
"We are also trying to provide them with adequate supplies of food. They are worried that they will be sent without being paid their salaries for the month of March which is pending," he said while denying that they have any health issues.
The supervisor of the company who spoke to Express said there are 140 inmates and they are being taken care of. "They have demanded that their salaries be paid and we are making arrangements to pay them by Monday," he said, adding that there is no shortage of food.
But Chauhan said while the workers were taken good care of during the first phase of the lockdown, their welfare was ignored in the second phase. "We were only provided with 130 kg atta (wheat flour) but no vegetables which is not enough for around 150 people. How will we eat rotis without any vegetables," he asked.
He also said the workers are getting depressed with no work and no money and their families in far-off places. "Please help us to live with dignity and get back our salary and send us home," he says.
Meanwhile, the state labour department swung into action and a Hindi-speaking volunteer from the Bihar Association contacted the workers.
Workers told Express that the volunteer after hearing about their plight got in touch with company officials who promised to provide supplies for the month of May as well as medical assistance for the mentally challenged worker.
Earlier, after Express highlighted the plight of migrant workers at a site in Ayanambakkam, who were not paid for the last two months, they claimed they were paid the salary for February by the contractors and wanted to know when arrangements will be made for them to travel back home. "We are yet to be paid our salaries for March and we want to go back home," they said.