They trudged hundreds of kilometers on foot lugging their meagre belongings, clung to vehicles, crowded bus and railway stations to get a ride home after they lost their jobs in the cities. Now, a few of them are set to return - by a plane. The contrast couldn't have been starker.
Bengaluru-based developers Prestige Group has said they are going to fly back migrant labourers from West Bengal and Bihar to Hyderabad to expedite completion of projects, halted by the coronavirus-induced lockdown, in Telangana.
The group has three high-profile projects in Hyderabad.
Even after Centre relaxing the lockdown norms and allowing construction activities to begin, major project sites are in a state of limbo as 99 per cent of the estimated three and a half lakh construction labourers in Telangana are migrants. Most of these workers left for their native states after the lockdown kicked in, stripping them off their means of livelihood in the city.
The first batch of 10 carpenters from Bihar is scheduled to fly in on June 6.
R Suresh Kumar, Vice President, Business Operations for Prestige Group says the response is need-based.
"Let us say the cost of each air ticket is about Rs 5,000 for a flight coming in from Patna. The company estimates that a ticket for an AC coach would cost almost as much, so would the cost of hiring a bus. We may fly in more workers depending on the need.''
The migrant exodus crippled many sectors like construction and real estate. Pushed into a corner by a skeletal workforce, several contractors and developers are now keen to help migrant workers to take to the skies as they realise that without them their business will not take off.