Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday that migrant workers in the city were the responsibility of the state government and assured labourers that they will not be abandoned to their fate amid the nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“The migrant labourers living in Delhi are our responsibility,” Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi. “We will take full care of them if they want to stay back and if they want to return to their villages, then trains are being arranged to transport them. Under no circumstance will they be left on their own.”
Kejriwal also shared a tweet by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, which said that 47,000 migrant workers have so far been sent home on “Shramik Special” trains.
Kejriwal added that state authorities have been issued instructions to ensure no passenger faces any problems. He displayed a notice by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority to officials, asking them to ensure that migrant workers are not allowed to walk along highways and railway tracks in an attempt to cover the long-distance home on foot or by unauthorised transport. The notice added that the workers have to be mandatorily put up in relief centres while arrangements are made for them to be transported home.
The notice added that authorities should establish proper cooperation with Railways to run more “Shramik Special” trains so that labourers can go home faster. It said that incoming “Shramik Special” trains should be received without any hindrance.
India has been under a lockdown since March 25 to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The closure of business, shops and establishments and industries has left a huge working class out of work, and led to their flight to their hometowns. However, many workers have died on the way while walking home, or in accidents.
On May 1, after much political outcry, the Centre introduced over 300 “Shramik Special” trains to ferry the workers home. However, some migrant labourers still continue to walk to their hometowns.
On Saturday, 24 migrants, who began their journey from Rajasthan, were killed and several others injured after a truck they were travelling in collided with another in Auriya in Uttar Pradesh. Kejriwal, offering condolences to the kin of the victims, said: “The tragedy of migrant labour keeps getting worse. Something needs to be done urgently.”
Delhi has so far reported 9,333 cases of Covid-19, including 129 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.