Many are taking taxis and auto rickshaws to head home while those who cannot afford are cycling the distance
Many migrant workers from Madhya Pradesh and Bihar who came to Mumbai to earn a livelihood have been in a desperate situation ever since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. They have been left with no work, no money and no means of transport to head to their native places.
Mumbai, being a COVID-19 hotspot has seen these migrant workers eager to escape the city for which auto rickshaw and cab drivers from Mumbai have come to their rescue. These drivers are willing to drive migrants to places as far as Indore in Madhya Pradesh, while the ‘kaali peeli’ taxis have also come to their aid.
There have been around 1,000 taxis and 5,000 auto rickshaws from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region that have left the city, travelling with the migrant labourers and their families. The Mumbai Agra Road touches Indore through a bypass road and eyewitnesses state that these vehicles can be seen leaving Mumbai at around 50 per hour.
These cab and auto drivers have been left without any work or means of earning a livelihood every since the lock down was announced. They are hence eager to reach their homes in UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand while some are even travelling to Karnataka.
In view of the present scenario, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Umakant Chaudhary said auto rickshaws were permitted to pass only after thorough medical screening of occupants when they enter the border of Madhya Pradesh.
The plight of these migrant workers is pathetic. 54 year old Baleshwar Yadav, an auto rickshaw driver for the past 12 years states that following the lockdown, he has been digging into his savings. That too has now run out and he has no choice but to return to his village in Jharkhand. He is travelling with 8 persons crammed into his three wheeler, with 2 women and 3 children. Ajay Yadav, 36, from Jaunpur in UP, is also in the same situation. They are heading out of Mumbai and are not sure if and when they will return.
Some migrants are so desperate that they are even riding bicycles back home to their villages as far as Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh or Kalahandi in Odisha. 27 year old Ramjeevan Nishad has left Nallasopara to reach home 800 kms away on his cycle. Travelling by truck would have cost him Rs.3,500 while a bus journey would have been double that amount. Nishad had only Rs.700 in his pocket and hence took this cheapest route.