Driven by lack of jobs, migrants from north Karnataka return to Bengaluru
The exodus of migrant workers from Bengaluru to other parts of Karnataka made headlines in the first week of May as thousands of people started camping at Majestic desperate to board a KSRTC bus that would take them back to their families. A month later, migrant workers from north Karnataka are slowly returning to Bengaluru in search of jobs.
On Friday evening, Ningappa, who hails from Maskanahalli, boarded a bus from Yadgir to Bengaluru. “I was working as a construction labour in Bengaluru. When bus services was introduced for labourers, I had to go back to my native place with family members. However, after reaching here, I have spent close to a month without any work. Finding a job is easier in Bengaluru. So, I have to decide to go back.”
Driven by joblessness and the need to earn a living, many said they had no choice but to return even though the number of COVID-19 cases in the State capital is on the rise. At the bus stand, families, many with children, were seen boarding buses to Bengaluru.
Gangappa and Anjeneya, both from Gabbur in Deodurga taluk of Raichur district, said that the higher wages prompted them to return to Bengaluru. “After reaching our native place, we spent days without a job. We were not given work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme during the lockdown, as we did not have job cards,” said Anjeneya.
Gangappa said, “In Bengaluru, at construction sites, women can earn up to ₹600 per day and men, up to ₹800. We cannot get that wage for a day’s work in our hometown.”
A senior official of the North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) said that 120 to 140 buses are running every day from Raichur, Yadgir, Kalaburgi and other places to Bengaluru.
“Earlier, we were operating 60-odd buses from our limits to Bengaluru. The number of services increased due to various factors. Before the pandemic, buses were operated with full seating capacity, but now only 30 people are allowed to travel as there is a need to maintain social distancing,” said the official, adding that passengers comprise not just blue-collar workers but also those in the corporate sector.
Yadgir and Raichur have the most number of buses to Bengaluru with around 30 services. “The absence of train services could be a factor in people opting for bus services,” the official added.
As per the data of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), more than 1.19 lakh migrant workers travelled from Bengaluru to their native places in northern parts of the State in May. The road transport corporation had operated 4,037 buses from Majestic in the first two weeks of May.