CHENNAI: The movement of desperate migrant workers trudging or cycling from Tamil Nadu to Andhra Pradesh has nearly stopped after Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami appealed to them not to leave for their home states on their own as the state is taking steps to send back at least 10,000 people every day.
The state government has swung into action and opened up relief shelters at Gummidipoondi, Ponneri, Poonamallee, Tirutanni and Tiruvallur. Workers trying to walk towards the Andhra border are being brought back to the shelters and arrangements are being made to send them home, said a revenue department official.
"We have opened two shelters per taluk for Gummidipoondi, Ponneri, Poonamalee, Tirutanni and Tiruvallur," said a revenue department official.
According to officials, a total of 843 migrant workers, a majority of them from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, were accommodated in these shelters on Saturday and 490 on Sunday.
"Till now, a total of 1,333 migrant workers have been taken to the shelters from where a total of 376 migrant workers have been sent back home," official sources said. These workers are being sent home either by bus or train.
Sources told The New Indian Express that arrangements are also being made to send back 957 migrant workers soon.
"The movement of workers has reduced tremendously," says Akshay Jain, a volunteer working on National Highway 16 on the Andhra side.
Jain says on Sunday morning a total of 300 migrants managed to cross the Andhra border and another 100 by evening. "We fed them but they could not proceed further as Andhra police loaded them in a bus and took them back to Tamil Nadu," he said.
"Today we could see hardly any migrants. A few had come from West Bengal and they have been put in relief camps on the Andhra side," he said.
Interestingly, the Andhra government has also promised to set up relief camps for the distressed workers. But Jain says there is a lack of transparency and no list of such camps.
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister had appealed to migrant workers not to walk or take vehicles to go back since the state government is bearing the travel expenses and making all arrangements to send them back with the concurrence of their home states.