Unlike in Delhi and Mumbai, migrant labourers in the city seem to be adopting a wait-and-watch approach and desisting from a panic-stricken exodus despite severe restrictions and the weekend lockdown imposed in the State.
However, having learned from past experience, the government has ensured that this time around the construction sector, markets and industry remain largely unaffected. “We have been working on confidence-building measures with labourers and have informed them that we will take care, even in the event of a lockdown. This has stood us in good stead this time,” said Suresh Hari, chairman, CREDAI-Bengaluru.
However, given that hotels, another sector that employs a large migrant labour population, has been allowed to work on only takeaways, Chandrashekhar Hebbar, president, Karnataka Regional Hotels and Restaurants’ Association, said if the restrictions were extended beyond two weeks, it would become difficult to retain staff and predicted that there would be a clamour to return home.
Even before the new restrictions were imposed a section had begun going back home. “What we have been seeing in the city is not an exodus like last year, but definitely a trickle of migrants returning home,” said Gayathri Vasudevan, Co-founder and CEO, LabourNet.
Ashok Kumar Verma, Divisional Railway Manager, Bengaluru, said there was some rush observed on trains bound for West Bengal, Assam, and Bihar, compared to other destinations. “We have decided to run four additional special trains to these three destinations this week. But we do not see an exodus of migrant labourers like in other cities,” he said.