Decoding Odisha’s crisis of migration of labourers from Bengal

In its fight against the COVID 19 crisis to Odisha, the migration of employees from West Bengal is proving to be a menace. Spreading of the novel corona virus in every state has reverse countrywide migration risks. In Odisha’s case, it will give sleepless nights to the state administration about the migration of daily wage labourers from West Bengal.

The Odisha migrant labourers work mainly in Kolkata and neighbouring West Bengal suburbs, bordering Odisha. Usually, they live in tiny dingy rooms in the state with limited access to quality healthcare and other basic amenities.

On Thursday, the four patients had a West Bengal Connection out of Six COVID-19 positive cases reported in Odisha. Making it a cause for concern out of 89 cases, 36 cases also had West Bengal connection. All 36 are both West Bengal returnees or have interaction with individuals who have returned from the neighbouring state during the last preceding period.

Odisha’s government raised concerns about West Bengal returnees on Monday after it had a link to West Bengal with over one-third of COVID-19 positive patients in Odisha.

The rise of COVID-19 cases in Odisha, India Today has attempted to decipher and also its link with the Bengali migration laborers. There has been a migration of employees from Odisha to West Bengal since the colonial period.

In its heyday the picturesque and densely populated Hooghly with the highest concentration of Bihar’s jute mills, thousands of jobs, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, with a lucrative pay to West Bengal.

“In spite of all the measures, certain infiltration can’t be entirely ruled out. There are about 80 plus villages in Balasore district alone which borders Bengal. In fact, the geography is such in several villages that part of the villages are in WB. In that case, it is humanly impossible to control infiltration. We as local leaders have our huge network in every village. Let us rise above political agenda, work hand in hand with the local administration, identity such sneakers at the village level and quarantine, for which all arrangements have been made under the direct instruction of CM Naveen Patnaik,” Rabindra Kumar Jena said.

Odisha Soumya Banker Kolkata Surajit Biswal said, “It is not necessary those people are carrying Covid-19 from Bengal. Since Bengal is densely populated, the labourers don’t have access to livelihood, there are chances of them getting affected in the lockdown.”

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