Hunger greater than COVID-19

Lack of employment at home forces Nepalis to return India even in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic

Published On: November 29, 2020 10:54 AM NPT By: DIL BAHADUR CHHATYAL

DHANGADHI, Nov 29: A large number of people in recent days are seen queueing up at major border points of Sudur Pashchim Province leaving for India on a daily basis. 

Despite the fact that COVID-19 cases are surging in both Nepal and India, people from Gauriphanta, Trinagar and Gaddachauki of Far West are increasingly travelling to the southern neighbor for employment. 

When asked about the reason for travelling to India at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic they all have the same answer: “There is no employment opportunity in the country. We cannot leave our children starving to death.”

After the global pandemic hit, many Nepali migrant workers in India had returned home in Nepal in April. Many of them returned home with hopes of doing something on their own in their home villages. 

But the plans they had in their mind did not turn into reality. Days and months passed by but they could not find ways to make their living here. They eventually had to go back to India to earn money for the livelihood of their family.

Harka Bhul of Doti said he is willing to go back and face any consequences as this is a better option than leaving his children to die of starvation. “If there was any way to make a living for my family I would have never left my country. But there is none because of which I am moving with my family,” he told Republica. 

Bhul had come to Nepal four months ago. His family is dependent on earnings from labor work in India. “Food is essential for survival. But what should we eat if there is nothing on the plate?” he questioned.

An average of 1,500 Nepalis leave the country through Gaddachauki and Trinagar border points in the Far West Province. According to Deputy Superintendent of Police Amar Bahadur Thapa Chhetri, who is Chief of District Police Office, Kanchanpur, a total of 1,983 people left for India through Gaddachauki and Gauriphanta border points last Friday.  As many as 1,675 people left for India on Saturday.

Similarly, Senior Superintendent of Police Mukesh Sing, who is also the spokesperson for Sudur Pashchim Province Police Office, said around 60,000 people have already crossed the border for labor work in India within the last three months.

After COVID-19 started spreading rapidly in India, more than 300,000 Nepalis working there returned home. Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a tourism entrepreneur, said the migrant workers are forced to return to India as the government failed to create opportunities for them. About 700,000 people travel to India for employment as the production from their farmlands do not last more than four months.


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