The exodus of migrant workers from Mumbai began on Monday a day before the Maharashtra Chief Minister announced severe, curfew-like restrictions on public movement over the next 15 days across the state.
A day before the announcement, Mumbai’s major railway station Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) was teeming with migrant workers. Anticipating the lockdown, many managed to get confirmed tickets to travel to their respective hometowns, while many others entered the station buying general compartment tickets, Indian Express reported.
The “lockdown-like” restrictions, which exclude essential services, will come into effect from 8 pm on April 14 and remain in force till 7 am on May 1, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said in his address via social media to people of the state.
Though the Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) are increasing the number of trains to North Indian states, over 2,000 people continue to be on the waiting list till Tuesday night.
Several others were waiting at CSMT for long distance trains on late Tuesday. Most of them fear that this year lockdown would be similar to the last years’ experience.
Section 144 of CrPC prohibiting assembly of five or more people at one spot will be in force during the period, Thackeray said but refrained from terming the new curbs as lockdown. The new norms entail stricter curbs on public activities to stem the infection spread and build on the existing weekend and night curfew in the state.
“I was lucky to get a reserved ticket. I used to work in a furniture shop at Goregaon. The shop has shut down and the owner has asked us to go on leave. I had come to Mumbai just two months ago. I had gone home during the last lockdown,” 36-year-old Pradeep Kumar Yadav from UP’s Jaunpur reportedly said.
“I do not know what I will do to do survive. But what is happening is in a way good as it’s for our own good. Everyone is suffering due to the pandemic,” he added.
One Monu Gupta from Gorakhpur in UP who used to work in a diamond polishing unit said that his company would be shut for a week or two. “I do not believe them after my last year’s experience. I think the curfew may get extended for a month or two. So, I am heading back home and will come back when the curfew ends,” Gupta said.
The chief PRO of Central Railways said that they are running additional trains to make up for the passengers. “Ten trains are leaving for North Indian states on Wednesday. The waiting list is of around 1,000 to 1,500 people for these trains. We are running additional trains based on the waiting lists,” Shivaji Sutar, chief PRO of CR said.