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Migrants pedal their way home, say ‘can’t survive in TN anymore’

Cycle shops in the city’s industrial belts and their outskirts are most sought-after these days. The customers, stranded migrant workers, have hardly any money left and prefer used ones to new. Fed up with the endless wait for trains, their only aim is to reach their homeland, though it means peddling hundreds of kilometres.

Migrants pedal their way home, say ‘can’t survive in TN anymore’
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Unlike others, this migrant workeris a proud owner of a new bicycle

Chennai

Most of them want to reach as far as Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. “The bicycles distributed among school students under the free State government scheme are the ones in demand. They come at Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,000,” said Kumaresan, a cycle shop owner at Ambattur. He said ever since he opened his cycle shop on May 8, migrant workers were his only customers.

“I sold all 27 used cycles lying at my shop for months in five days for Rs 1,400 to Rs 2,000. Now I have bought some cycles used by students and are selling them,” said Kumaresan, adding he is giving the cycles to only after repairing and replacing damaged parts as “they have a long way to go”.

Sivakumar, owner of Sri Rajalakshmi cycle shop at Ambattur, said he had sold 45 new bicycles to the migrant workers since May 11. “Earlier we used to sell only three to four cycles a day,” he said, adding the price of the new cycles for adults starts at Rs 4,000.

Amit Kumar, a construction worker, along with his three friends have set out on a 1,800-km-long journey to their homes at Nawada in Bihar on their brand new bicycles after they lost hope of travelling by train. “We brought the new cycle for Rs 5,600 each, borrowing money from friends and relatives back home. We have no money left after remaining jobless for over 50 days. We cannot survive here anymore and hence decided to go on cycles,” he said.

R Chezhiyan of South Asian Cycles at Kallikuppam said he was selling new cycles to the workers at a very less margin considering their sufferings. He said he provided a free emergency kit, comprising of an air pump, puncture kit and tools along with usual accessories like bell and lock to all 15 migrant workers who bought cycles from him.

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