1.31 lakh sugarcane cutting labourers
1.31 lakh sugarcane cutting labourers

Mumbai: With Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray allowing limited relaxations of restrictions to farm sector activities, work on the sugar mills is slated to resume soon. The sugarcane crushing season of the state, had come to a grinding halt with came cutters returning to their hometown amid the virus outbreak.

As on April 15, the state had produced 60 lakh tonnes of sugar, compared to the 106.71 lakh tonnes in the last year. As many as 136 mills have closed their crushing operations and only 10 mills have been operating in the state currently.

Meanwhile in an unprecedented attempt, State Minister of state for home, housing and transport Satej Patil has taken an initiative of sending back as many as 14,000 sugarcane mill workers who were stuck at Kolhapur amid the nationwide lockdown.

The mill workers who went to Kolhapur days before the nationwide lockdown was imposed to attend an event of mill workers were stranded there. The workers were from different districts and parts of Maharashtra including Mumbai.

And since lockdown is being imposed, they have been finding it difficult to make ends meet. Patil has arranged transportation for the stranded workers who will be transferred to their respective hometowns situated in different districts of the state. As many as 56 Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses have been allotted for the purpose.

"The labourers were stranded at Kolhapur for a number of days. Now the state government has arranged transport to ensure they are ferried to their native villages so that they can begin work," said Congress leader, Bhushan Patil.

In the first lot, 738 labourers have been sent home. Prior to boarding the buses, the workers had to undergo sanitation. The buses were also sanitised with disinfectants. "All the drivers and helpers have been provided with adequate protective gears," said a transport official.

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