PTI impact: Stranded Odisha migrant workers finally head home

Chennai, June 5 (PTI) Till June 4, over 30 stranded migrant workers from Odisha were clueless about the process to go home and made frequent trips to the Central railway station here, only with hopes to return, but hours after their plight was reported by PTI, help came knocking at their doors.

A phone call from the Greater Chennai Corporation seemed to be godsent for Chittaranjan and others, as their three month ordeal came to a sudden end when the state government came to their rescue and booked them in an Odisha-bound Shramik Express on Friday.

With smiles writ largely on their faces, the group which included women and children left from the MGR Chennai Central station at about 2.30 pm on Friday, leaving back their grim memories of lockdown in this metropolis.

Chittaranjan, a worker at a plastics manufacturing company here, said he never expected that his fortune and that of 34 others from his state would change for the better within about 24 hours.

'I received a call from a Chennai Corporation employee on Thursday afternoon and he asked me if I required food. I replied no and said I wanted to go home as I have no job,' he told PTI.

He also passed on the list of 34 Odisha construction workers stuck at Semmanchery and Sriperumbudur near here to that person who promptly called them.

They too declined food and expressed the desire to return home.

Earlier on Thursday, PTI reported the plight of the workers who were clueless about the process to return home by the Shramik specials but had made frequent trips to the central station with the hope of getting on to one of the special services.

After reporting about their condition, PTI informed a senior official with the Information and Public Relations Department of the matter, who in turn conveyed it to his director.

When the latter informed civic authorities, GCC Commissioner G Prakash directed the zonal officials to coordinate and facilitate the safe return of the workers, authorities said.

A Corporation staffer well-versed in five languages was directed by his higher officials to make arrangements for the return of the migrant workers.

Asked if he faced any difficulties in interacting with the workers, the staffer, requesting anonymity, said he was proficient in Tamil and four other languages--Hindi, Telugu, Malalayam and English.

'Our Commissioner has deputed a team of officials and staff for the 'mission back home'. Accordingly as per government's instructions, the workers were provided food packets and water bottles,' he said.

While crossing the Tamil Nadu border, Chittaranjan called up PTI and said, 'the corporation officials have been helpful. They told us to follow social distancing inside the compartment.' 'I had lost all hope...I never expected that I would be in an Odisha-bound train in less than 24 hours,' after he spoke to PTI, Chittaranjan who came to Chennai about six months ago, said.

He worked as a helper in a plastics manufacturing company in Guindy but doubled up as a call taxi driver to make up for the meagre income.

'But the over two months of lockdown made my life miserable...difficult to live. Maybe when things improve, I hope to return to Chennai' the 34 year-old man said.

Luckily for him, as news of his return reached his state, apparently through the Tamil Nadu government officials, he got a call asking for his landlord's phone number.

'The lady who called me said she was speaking from Delhi.

She took my landlord's number and said she would speak about one month's rent due from me. I hope whoever called me will arrange for the rent,' he said. PTI CORR SA ROH ROH