With Delhi’s economy grinding to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Sunday appealed to migrant workers to not leave the city and emphasised that everyone will be able to earn once the lockdown ends.
Kejriwal, however, added that arrangements were being made for those keen on leaving, so no one should set out on foot. He called it an unsafe option, especially in light of the tragedy in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad where 16 migrants headed to MP were run over by a goods train on Friday.
Overall corona figures rising in Delhi but at the same time people are getting cured and going back home safe. Now we’ve to learn to live with corona. https://t.co/4WmYayfVzE
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) May 10, 2020
Addressing a webcast, the CM referred to the continuing flight of migrant workers from the country’s major economic centres to their home states, especially UP, MP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh, among others.
“It feels like the entire system has failed, all governments have failed. I want to make an appeal to all migrant workers stranded in Delhi, we are making all arrangements for you. So far, we arranged food and lodging for you. So my first request to you is — please do not leave Delhi. This lockdown will not be here forever. Things will reopen, will reopen soon. Aapko bhi milegi, sabko mazoori milegi,” he said.
According to migration data of the 2011 census, at 63 lakh, more than 40% of the city’s approximately 2 crore population comprised of migrants. Out of the total, around 20 lakh came looking for work and almost two-third of the total migrants were from Bihar, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and UP.
The CM shared his anguish over the sight of people walking hundreds of kilometres to get home: “They have blisters on their feet, they don’t have food, some are carrying their children on their shoulders; in one case, I saw a person carrying his old mother. It is painful.”
For those keen on leaving, transit arrangements are being made, he said. Over the last two days, Shramik Special trains have left for MP and Bihar with around 2,400 migrants. On Sunday, a few buses left for Punjab with stranded workers from the state.
“Kindly wait for some time. We are in touch with other states, the Centre. Do not leave on foot. It is not safe… Walking such long distances, without any food and water, is not good. We are here to take care of you, have faith in us,” he added.
In Delhi, entirely a red zone, authorities have allowed resumption of in-situ construction work and factories, producing both essential and non-essential items, in designated industrial zones.
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