Bhubaneswar: Come April 15 and it will be around 20 days since Rakesh Behera and his family would have gone through a period of unrelenting heat, mosquito laden nights and unproductive hours of days confined in a house of a government quarter.
Rakesh isn’t a victim of coronavirus, nor is his family poor. In fact, he is a reputed public sector employee in Coal India Limited. However, his adverse conditions are a result of a sudden nationwide lockdown that has seen all his household belongings halted in Bhubaneswar while it was in a transit from Secunderabad to Dhanbad following his transfer.
“I got the transfer letter March 15 and I was to report in Dhanbad, Jharkand March 18. After that I got a five-day leave to move my belongings to Dhanbad. I went back to Secunderabad and contacted a movers and packers firm. It took a day to load all the belongings and another day for the truck to leave Andhra Pradesh,” Rakesh explains.
“As soon the truck reached Odisha borders, the Janata Curfew was imposed March 22. And by the time it managed to leave Odisha and enter West Bengal, the 21-day lockdown began. Now, I’m at my new place with my family and we do not even have a bed, fan or refrigerator and life has become a living hell,” he laments.
Rakesh’s case could be just a tip of the iceberg. Many such cases would have happened during this lockdown. A sudden arrest of movement in vehicles has left many who were planning to relocate in dire straits. When contacted, Rakesh’s firm who had a store here, maintained that they are left with no alternatives as ‘the government isn’t considering these services under essentials.’ “Even if we manage to get a pass to allow the truck to pass from Odisha, we will be stopped at West Bengal borders. Moreover, even the drivers and loaders have now gone back to their homes fearing the infection,” said Priyranjan Swain, manager of the firm here.
With Odisha government extending its lockdown to April 30, and the central government extending it by two more weeks, the pandemic is likely to hit people planning to relocate very hard. Although experts have suggested that the government can consider movement of belongings of at least government employees under exceptional cases, lack of manpower with packers and movers makes it difficult.
“We were planning to shift base to Kolkata by April. However, the lockdown happened and that made our plans go haywire as movers and packers services halted their services. Although our landlord has given us extension we are not sure when we will be able to leave as they have said they can only resume service post lockdown,” said Mitali Sarkar, a resident here.
Aviral Mishra, OP