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Delhi: Tried hard to make people stay, many want to leave, says CM

“A lot of people are going back to their villages. We have tried very hard to make them stay. I have directed the MLAs to make appeals and made ample arrangements to make them stay back," said the CM.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
March 29, 2020 12:56:16 am
Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi CM, migrant workers, coronavirus outbreak, india lockdown, indian express news Migrant labourers on the National Highway 24 on Saturday. (Photo: Amit Mehra)

As the trickle of people walking to their villages turned into a wave on Saturday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said his government had tried hard to make migrant workers stay back, and reassured people that every help would be extended to them.

“A lot of people are going back to their villages. We have tried very hard to make them stay. I have directed the MLAs to make appeals and made ample arrangements to make them stay back. We are making arrangements for food twice a day as well as a place for them to stay. Many have insisted that they want to go home. Many are not sure what the future holds,” said the CM.

Since a nationwide lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, thousands of men, women and children have started walking from where they live in Delhi and Haryana to their villages, mostly in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

No way to earn money, depleted rations and insecurity are the reasons most cited. On Friday, the Delhi government started handing out food packets to people across the city through centres set up in schools and night shelters. On Saturday, the government said it had built capacity to feed 4 lakh people every day.

For those bent on leaving, DTC buses were arranged on Saturday to ferry them to the Ghaziabad border, where UP government had made arrangements to take them further. “I didn’t know the government was giving food and shelter. But even if I did, is it feasible to live in a shelter home with my family of five for three weeks? I’d rather go home. There is dignity there, and we can all stay together,” said 37-year-old Ram Niwas, who started walking from Rohini at 5 am and reached Ashram around noon. He has to go to Badaun in UP, over 250 km away.

Kejriwal, meanwhile, assured that everyone who chooses to stay back will be taken care of. Appealing them to stay where they are, he said, “If we leave like this, the danger of COVID-19 spreading rapidly increases. Stay where you are. I assure you that any problems you have, I will take care of them. We have made arrangements for stay as well as food. New shelters near the border are being set up in schools.”

 

He said that the government had made arrangements to distribute food from 568 schools and 238 night shelters across the city and that the capacity to feed 4 lakh people had been built. “A flying squad has also been appointed to find those who need food and deliver packets to them. There are some teething problems but they will be streamlined in a day or two,” he said.

“We can see how it has progressed in other countries. These countries such as the US, Italy, France and Spain are developed countries. The situation is horrific there. I saw a doctor from a developed country talk about how they are having to take elderly people who are ill off ventilators to save the younger people. We have to learn from their experience and make sure we don’t reach that stage,” he said.

The Uttar Pradesh government, meanwhile, claimed: “Water and power connections of labourers living on Delhi were snapped. They didn’t get even food or milk.” It also alleged DTC buses dropped off people at the Delhi border in the name of help.

“Announcements were made in Delhi and rumours were spread that there are buses at UP border waiting to drop people to their destinations,” it claimed..

Delhi’s Deputy CM Manish Sisodia hit back: “I am saddened that at the time of an epidemic, BJP leaders are indulging in such petty politics. Yogi Adityanath’s government has alleged Arvind Kejriwal has snapped power and water connections and that is why people are leaving . This is the time to stand together and save the country, not the time for petty politics. No one from Delhi can say that Kejriwal has cut water and power. It does not feel right that your government is making these ridiculous statements.”

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