Migrant workers among worst hit as curbs put in place to check Covid-19 cases
Pavan Sahni, 30, an ice cream seller, would earn ₹400 daily in Rajasthan's Neemrana before lockdown was imposed there to check the second Covid-19 wave that has overwhelmed hospitals and starved them of life-saving oxygen and beds. He has since found it hard to sustain his family of four. Sahni, who lives in a small, rented room with his wife and daughters aged nine and seven, has also been unable to return to his native Vaishali in Bihar as he does not the money for it.
"It is a much worse situation this time," said Sahni, referring to the lockdown imposed last year to check the pandemic spread that forced tens of thousands of migrant workers left jobless to cycle or walk back to their homes.
Sahni said around 15 people from his village, who sold ice creams in Neemrana, have returned to their homes. "... we could not. There is no money left for us to travel back home [over 1,300 kilometres away]."
Sahni said they utilised all their savings during the lockdown last year and that they fear for their survival. He added people were reluctant to offer help as they are fearful of getting infected. "Last year, many neighbours would offer us food. This time no one came. People are fearful because of the virus," said Sahni. "My daughter injured her foot last week and that wound had to be stitched. The medicine and ointment cost ₹500. I did not have any money to pay for it. I asked the chemist if we could pay later but he refused. My wife somehow managed to borrow money. The times are bad. How would anyone lend me money? Most of the people I know are skipping meals."