BH CORRESPONDENT, New Delhi: The Centre and state governments are all set to relax some lockdown rules to facilitate hundreds of thousands of migrant labourers reach their towns and villages and find food and shelter on the way.
Hindustan Times has quoted senior government officials familiar with the matter, saying that provisions will either be made to provide safe transport to these daily-wage labourers, or government shelters will be set up for them.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, a Member of Parliament from Bihar, said that discussions were on at the highest level of government about how to help these men and women. “The government is alive to their situation. I also appeal to all civil society members to rise up and make provisions for such people,’’ Prasad told Hindustan Times.
Prasad added that he has spoken to Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and several district magistrates in Bihar to make special arrangements for the labourers. A large section of the migrants are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and have been walking from the national capital or metro cities in other states to their villages.
An official in the labour ministry said that some changes in some of the lockdown restrictions to help migrant workers were expected in the next couple of days. “There are states like UP and Bihar who are impacted much more by this problem than others. So any plan for the workers will have to keep in mind the local conditions,’’ said the official who asked not to be named. “We don’t want them (migrant labourers) to panic. We want them to know that we are working at a solution.’’
The Centre has been in touch with chief secretaries of several states to resolve the issue, and feedback has also been sought from the state transport departments. “Labour is a concurrent issue while transport is a state subject, so we are consulting all before we announce a solution,’’ said the labour ministry official.
Meanwhile, netizens have criticised the Centre for the step-motherly attitude towards the migrant workers. The netizens pointed out that while the Centre brought back those Indians who were living abroad and kept them in quarantine, they didn’t seem to care enough for the migrant workers who were walking down for miles to return back to their villages.
Special aircraft like 787-Dreamliner & Boeing-777 with medical teams by govt. to bring back NRIs frm abroad.
Poor has no travelling facilities like train, bus, auto. Walking 500-1K km with holding children on his shoulder.
— Newton Bank Kumar (@idesibanda) March 27, 2020
A long walk back home for the daily wagers in gurgaon. They surely need intervention from the #Government for their safety and well being till they reach what they believe is safe. #MigrantsOnTheRoad #gurgaonmigrants #migrantcrisis #migrantworkers pic.twitter.com/QS3F0APhzx
— saurav saha (@ssaauravs) March 27, 2020
Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Aaditya Thackeray has tweeted that he received a phone call from Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien conveying a message from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He was informed that about 800 labourers from West Bengal are stuck in Maharashtra in the lockdown. However, Aaditya assured that those the state of Maharashtra has reached them and they will be taken care of.
This morning I received a call from @derekobrienmp with a message from Bengal CM @MamataOfficial ji. About 800 labour stuck in Maharashtra.
Ofcourse we can’t let them go back as state borders are sealed, but we reached out and are taking care of them. #WarAgainstVirus
— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) March 26, 2020
Same assurance has been given by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.
Lakhs of Delhi residents have come from other states. CMs and people from those states have been writing to me to help these people
I want to assure all – migrants in Delhi are Delhiites. They’re our responsibility. We will do everything in our capacity to help them.
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 27, 2020