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Rural Bihar Bustles With Return of Migrant Workers During Chhath

Nearly, two million migrant workers have already arrived in the past week.
Rural Bihar Bustles With Return of Migrant Workers During Chhath

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

Patna: Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are thronging the rural areas of Bihar with the four-day Chhath festival starting on Friday to celebrate with their families, relatives, friends and neighbours.

The festival is also a socio-economic booster with migrant workers bringing their hard-earned money to spend on purchasing essential items, constructing houses, marriages, education, healthcare and land deals.

I reached the village two days ago to celebrate Chhath. I will invest some money on completing the construction of my house and purchase a few basic items for the family during my one-week stay,” Rajendar Rai, a native of Rampur village, in Patepur block, Vaishali district, told Newsclick.

We also buy new clothes, fruits, food items and other traditional materials from the local market for Chhath, which helps the local economy,” Rai, who is employed with a garment factory in Tamil Nadu, added.

Another migrant worker Suresh Kushwaha, who returned to his village Bajidpur, in Bochaha block, Muzaffarpur district, will soon admit his wife to a private nursing home for uterus operation. “I saved money for the operation and to purchase a big tin box and an almirah for my daughter,” said Kushwaha, who works in a cement factory in Gujarat.

Furqan Khan, head of Purhara Panchayat, in Haspura block, Aurangabad district, said that there is a festive mood in the villages after the arrival of migrant workers. “Their presence has turned the villages lively.”

Kamlesh Yadav, a native of Sonwan village, in Ghosi block, Jehanabad district, has saved Rs 30,000 to purchase a cow. “It will provide milk and be a source of earning for my family. I wanted a source of earning for my family after I leave in the first week of November.”

Yadav, who works as a mason in Delhi, said that he “would love to stay here but there is no opportunity to work and earn”.

Mahesh Prasad, a businessman in Haspura Bazar, a block-level town, told Newsclick that the arrival of migrant workers increases the demand for everything. “Businessmen, traders and shopkeepers await their arrival during Chhath as they spend a lot and boost the local economy.”

Prasad, who owns a garment shop, said that good roads, electricity supply and the Internet have completely changed the lifestyle of families of migrant workers. “Now, they purchase gadgets, bikes and other items.”

According to Guddu Singh, a trader in Masaurhi Bazar, a town in Patna district, “In the last three-to-four days, the demand for goods has increased.”

According to officials at the East Central Railway headquarters, Hajipur, thousands of passengers from across the country have been arriving in more than 200 trains everyday to celebrate Chhath.

All the trains from Surat, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kochi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Goa and other places are packed to capacity,” a Railways official said.

A senior police officer said nearly two million migrant workers have already arrived in the past week. “Hundreds of migrant workers will arrive till Saturday to take part in Arghya, the main ritual of Chhath, when fasting devotees stand waist-deep in water to offer prayers to the setting and rising Sun on the banks of rivers and other water bodies.”

According to various estimates, more than one crore migrants from Bihar are permanently working outside. Besides, thousands of them are employed as seasonal migrants. While the majority of the migrants work at farms, factories and construction and infrastructure sites, several of them are also skilled professionals.

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