Migrant workers India
Migrant workers wait outside a railway station to catch a train to return to their homes, in Mumbai, India, Friday, May 15, 2020. Image Credit: AP

Patna: Amid violent face-offs between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh, the first lot of 1,648 workers — out of a total of 11,000 — have left by a special train to build roads in the sensitive Leh-Ladakh region in India’s eastern border. All these workers were rushed by the Jharkhand state government on the request of the Border Road Organisation (BRO).

The first batch of labourers, expert in carrying out construction work even in difficult hilly terrains, left Dumka station in Jharkhand on Saturday evening. The remaining batches of labourers are scheduled to leave for Ladakh on Tuesday evening,and on June 20, June 24, June 28 and July 4 by special trains.

“Construction of roads plays an important role not only in boosting the economic growth of the country, but they also have a strategic importance. This job is especially challenging given the way this road construction work is being carried out on the border,” a BRO official said.

Services for the nation

The official said the construction of roads when completed increases a country’s strategic capability multiple times and thanked the workers for lending their services for the nation.

Many of the workers were those stuck in Ladakh due to the lockdown and were brought back by the Jharkhand government on special planes only last month since there was no train connectivity, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren revealed, flagging off the special train on Saturday. He also described them as “warriors” for agreeing to work in the region at the time of military conflicts.

CM seeks proper care for workers

“At a time when tension prevails along the India-China border, you are undertaking a journey to fearlessly work for the country. You are no less than soldiers,” the chief minister said, while asking the BRO officials to take proper care of the workers during these challenging times.

Officials said road construction work in India’s strategic border with China was facing a huge crisis of manpower due to the departure of labourers in the wake of the Coronavirus-induced lockdown.

According to an official report, more than 689,000 workers have returned to their homes in Jharkhand, while over three million migrant workers have returned to Bihar.

The mobilisation of such a huge workforce at the border assumes much significance in the wake of violent clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in the sensitive Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night, leaving three Indian soldiers dead. Casualties were also reported on the Chinese side.