Migrant labourers flee as TN locks down
CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu is witnessing a drain on migrant labour as COVID-19 infections keep soaring and the state remains under a virtual lockdown that has thrown the labourers jobless.
In several cities of Tamil Nadu, migrants are making a beeline to head back to their home towns fearing the repeat of a lockdown similar to 2020.
One city with a concentration of migrant labour is Tirupur, the hub of the state’s textile export business. Officials say bulk of the migrant workers in the textile city have moved out as they feel that another lockdown might leave them without food and shelter.
The case is no different in Chennai, where majority of construction labourers are from other States.
Efforts made by local officials and business owners to persuade them to stay have not worked.
Migrant workers from Sivakasi are also returning to their home towns.
Tamil Nadu hosts over a million migrant workers, with the majority hailing from northern and north-eastern states.
In March last year, ater the nationwide lockdown took effect, most of these workers were let stranded at the Central station without trains.
Hotel employees from Chennai have also started to leave the city as the government has asked restaurants to operate with only 50 per cent capacity.
The Madras high court on Thursday took suo motu notice of newspaper reports on the shortage of Remdesivir and ventilators and diversion of oxygen from Tamil Nadu to other states at a time when fears have been raised about shortage.
Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy asked the government to explain measures taken by the state to handle the crises.
“There are news reports on supply of oxygen being diverted to other states.
“There are also reports about shortage of ventilators. We propose to take up these matters in the second half today ahead of any other business we have. We want to put you on notice before,” the bench said.
Reports have appeared that the Centre diverted 45 metric tonnes of medical oxygen from a plant in Sriperumbudur to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.