Updated: Nov 23
Q. Are you a resident of this village? If yes, have you ever migrated from here? If yes, for what reason? And why choose that city or town?
Construction Worker: No, I am not a resident of this village. I belong to Chhattisgarh; I come here every year for a few months for work. The reason I came to this specific city is that some people from our village were already working here; I came here with them. We all live together here. Another reason I chose this city is that the wages here are high.
Q. Do your children migrate with you? If yes, do they attend school at the destination and are there any problems in seeking school admission?
Construction Worker: No, my children do not migrate with me. They are all in my village, along with my whole family. Only the men of the family migrate, work outside for a few months, and then go back to our state. My children are enrolled in the village school.
Q. Have you tried to avail benefits of the Public Distribution System (PDS) at your workplace by using One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme? What was the experience? If not, then why not?
Construction Worker: I do not take the PDS ration in Maharashtra. My family buys subsidised rations using the card in our village. I buy the supplies from a shop here and have not gone to a PDS shop in Maharashtra. But some of the workers, who are from Uttar Pradesh, buy the PDS ration here. I do not know how they get it, if they ever have any extra or leftover ration, they share it with me.
Q. If your Aadhaar is registered at your home or source village, have you faced any challenge in availing services at the migration destination?
Construction Worker: Yes; I do not belong to this state, my Aadhar card is not from here, so I do not get benefits which the local workers receive. Also, it is difficult to send money back to home as I am not literate and do not know how to transfer money online. When someone from our group goes to the village, I send the money with them.
Q. Are you registered with the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Welfare Board? If yes, under which state?
Construction Worker: No, I have not. It is a challenge to get registered with the BOCW. When I went to the office here for registration, they asked me to attach multiple documents to the application which I do not have here with me.
I am not registered with the BOCW in Chhattisgarh as well; but when I go home this time, I will get registered. Earlier, I did not have much information about the BOCW but now since I know about the benefits, I’ll surely do it.
Q. Have you ever worked under MGNREGS? If yes, for how many days in a year, when, and why did you leave that work?
Construction Worker: Yes, I have worked under MGNREGS in my village. But there is very little work available under the scheme; I worked for around 30-40 days but there was no more work available there. So, I collected my wages and moved to Maharashtra for work.
Q. Did you get any grant or money during the COVID-19 lockdown?
Construction Worker: No, I did not receive any kind of money. When the lockdown happened, I was stuck in Maharashtra, but then out of fear, somehow I travelled back to my village. But we did not get any benefit other than some wheat and rice from the village ration shop.
After leaving Maharashtra, I did whatever work I could find in the village, like working on others’ farms. Then once the lockdown was lifted, I came back to Maharashtra. Now, I’ll work here for a few months and afterwards, will go back to my village.
Image Credits: Bhupendra Rana/ Indian Express
This interview was conducted with a Construction Worker in Maharashtra in Marathi on 15 September 2022, and has been translated.