Rajaram Herna and eight other migrant workers reached their home district Nuapada on Tuesday night. Three of them came from Chennai and the rest from Tirupati, all riding bicycles, covering hundreds of miles. Tuna Herna and eight others had reached a day before.
All 18 workers are in quarantine in the TMC of Farsara in Boden block. "We were working in different construction sites, getting paid according to the kind of works. The unskilled were being paid Rs 350 per day and works that needed skills like painting and risky activities like scaffold fixing fetched a little more earning. I was engaged in scaffolding work, thus was paid Rs 450 a day," said Herna.
"We were stranded for more than a month, tried to get support from the administration, but none came to our rescue. So we decided to ride in bicycles," added he.
Some of these workers had left with little saving that they spent in buying second hand bicycles and those who didn't have saving asked their family members to send money through digital banking.
"The journey was arduous, sometimes we were facing humiliation from miscreants but thanks to those villagers and police personnel who took care of us, we finally reached home safe," said Herna.
They told about their experience of getting food and water in TN and timely support of police to rescue them from some miscreants in Kalyan Singpur in Odisha.
The district administration in the current financial year is running 3,081 projects under MGNREGS, where 27,788 persons are working at present. Engaging such a huge number of workers every day certainly needs meticulous planning, effective implementation at ground level and above all motivating and ensuring turnout of workers to do the work, considering the fact that most job seekers are dissuaded from the job scheme due to delay in payment of wages.
"The issue of delayed payment is one of the main causes of less labour turnout; we are trying our best to resolve this issue," replied a district official. "If regular work is available here and the timely payment of wage is assured, we wouldn't migrate," said Herna. "I heard that the wage in the job scheme here has increased to Rs 298, most of us earn at this same range in TN. Then, why would we go there," asked he.