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Single storied house has 3 Bedrooms,
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9 Dec 2016

Back home minus joy of homecoming

Ramashankar, TT, Patna, Dec. 8: "Modi ji Gujarat se Bihar pahucha diye. Ab naam batayenge toh BJP wale Sitamarhi se bhi bhaga denge. (Narendra Modi got us back to Bihar from Gujarat, now if I tell you my name the BJP guys will shoo me out of Sitamarhi as well)."
That was how a daily wage labourer, who said he used to work in Gujarat, gave vent to his frustration at the crisis that has hit migrant labourers from Bihar because of demonetisation.
Steadfastly refusing to disclose his identity, the man, who was standing at Mithapur bus stand in Patna waiting to go back to his native place in Sitamarhi, added in Hindi: "For us, Modi ji has failed to bring achchhe din (good days)."
From diamond factories in Gujarat to cycle factories in Punjab, scores of migrant labourers are returning to their homes in Bihar with their lives in disarray, and their future uncertain.
You can spot them at railway stations and bus stands, returning home with none of the joy of going home.
Rambabu Yadav, 45, of Bajidpur village in Vaishali district, was working hard in a diamond factory in Gujarat's Surat to save money for his 21-year-old daughter's wedding next year.
"I have deferred the wedding as I have been rendered jobless post-demonetisation," a crestfallen Rambabu said.
Rambabu and his friend Satyanarayan Singh, 32, a resident of Dhankaul village under Patepur block in Vaishali district, said that like them hundreds of workers in the Prime Minister's home state of Gujarat have been rendered jobless after the cash ban.
Diamond factories in Gujarat have been a favourite destination for a large number of migrant labourers from Bihar. They get regular employment in the factories throughout the year, and the pay is also better compared to other states.
Notebandi ki mar jhel rahen hai (we are suffering because of the cash ban)," said an angry Narayan Ram, 50, resident of Sultanpur village in Samastipur district.
He used to work at a cycle factory in Ludhiana and his employer told him to go back home as the facility has been shut for the time being - thanks to demonetisation.
Narayan, a father of four, had planned to return home some time in March to join the family at the time of Holi.
Now, he doesn't know what colours March will bring; his employer has told him to return only after the situation becomes "normal".
Narayan and his nephew Ganaur Ram, 35, returned home by the Amritsar-Sealdah Express on Monday.
Ganaur used to work in an asbestos factory in Ludhiana, but the production in the plant has drastically reduced due to plummeting demand because of the cash crunch.
"The factory owner has promised to call me back after the demand picks up, hopefully in the next few months," Ganaur said.
Narayan and Ganaur used to earn between Rs 15,000 and Rs 18,000 per month.
But even before they were told to go back, the daily wagers were not paid for overtime - because production had been badly hit because of the scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
"Overtime used to add to our monthly income and make it easier to live in a distant land," Ganaur said.
Every year, migrant workers from Bihar mostly go to states such as Assam, Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana and Kerala.
Bihar labour minister Vijay Prakash said the state government is not aware of the exact number of labourers who go outside the state every year in search of jobs.
The minister came down hard on the central government for its demonetisation policy, which has led to thousands of migrant labourers to return home this winter.
"It's a fact that labourers are returning to their respective villages from the places of their work outside the state. This has badly hit the income of such families," Vijay told The Telegraph.
Economist and retired Patna University professor N.K. Choudhary said small and medium scale industries and farm units have been badly hit by demonetisation.
"The cash crunch has resulted in slow production in small and medium industrial units," he said.

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