Dharampura village of Shivpuri district in Madhya Pradesh has three Sahranas (small pieces of land at the outskirts of villages where Sahariyas live). The Sahariyas of Dharampura are landless, and all of them work as labourers. For 6-8 months of a year they are migrating, working in nearby towns like Dabra, Datia and Sheopur.
These people are extremely poor. Most of them are left with no money and no food when they return from migration. Indebtedness is common among them. During the migration period most of them do stonecutting work in mines. Some of them also do agricultural work on daily wages. They earn 40 rupees per day, which is much lower than the minimum daily wage ensured by the law. Getting adequate food remains a distant dream for almost all of these people throughout life. Malnourishment and poor nutrition is the destiny of every Sahariya child in this village.
Upper caste and dominant people of the village exploit these people and treat them in an inhuman manner. The conditions of female widowers and elderly people are unimaginable. As they are unable to work, they are totally dependent on the charity of other people who themselves are not in a position to provide food or shelter to even their children.
Such stories are increasingly common in Madhya Pradesh. People have been moving from rural to urban areas too. Migrants are engaged in different types of work in rural and urban areas. In rural areas, migrant workers generally engage in agriculture and allied activities, followed by casual work. Migrants in urban areas are engaged in construction work. As per the 2001 census, out of 60.3 million people in Madhya Pradesh, 18.2 million were reported as migrants by place of last residence.
In recent years, a very high rate of distress migration has been witnessed in various parts of the state, as due to unfavourable conditions, manmade disasters and natural calamities like drought, millions of people are forced to leave their places of birth and residence.
According to estimates from one district of Bundelkhand, Chattarpur alone has seen over 150,000 farmers migrate in a single month. In villages, rows of houses lie locked, the occupants having migrated. The few houses that are still occupied have only children and old men and women, as they cannot work. However, almost no methodical data have been collected on the prevalence of this temporary migration, about the conditions under which people migrate, the costs and risks of migration, or the impact of remittances on the household and village economy.
There are no proper records and data on Migration in Madhya Pradesh. In the absence of factual information, it is very difficult for policymakers to know the causes and level of migration, and is difficult to protect the rights of the migrants. The present development policies are the key source of distress migration in India, but there is no system to track this rapidly emerging issue. Since there are no data available, the state does not need to take any action, as there is no consolidated picture available for any one.