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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

‘Make sure those stranded at Yamuna Pushta get food, water, electricity’: Delhi HC to govt

Thousands of migrant workers, the poor and the homeless are facing a tough time in the national capital amid the Covid-19 lockdown.

Written by Pritam Pal Singh | New Delhi | Published: April 21, 2020 1:26:41 am
Scenes from outside a shelter: ‘This is what we people have been reduced to — fighting for food’ People sit by the Yamuna Pushta near Nigambodh Ghat, waiting for food. (Express photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

The Delhi High Court Monday directed the Centre, the Delhi government and its agencies to ensure there is “no dearth of food, potable water, electricity and other requirements of sanitation in the area” where the inhabitants of Yamuna Pushta have now been relocated.

Thousands of poor are stranded in the national capital amid the extraordinary situation created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad further ordered Shapoorji Pallonji Construction Company, which has engaged large numbers of workers in the construction work at Pragati Maidan in central Delhi, to ensure they are given food and other facilities at the labour camp near Sarai Kaale Khan, “throughout the lockdown period”.

The bench disposed of a PIL by activist Sunil Kumar Aledia, who has contended that thousands of homeless people and daily wage workers are stranded and living in the open along the bank of river Yamuna, at Kashmere Gate.

Aledia’s counsel Kamlesh Kumar Mishra apprised the bench that they are stranded there “without any shelter, toilet or medical facility”.

They also submitted that thousands of construction workers of Shapoorji Pallonji are staying without any proper provision of food at a labour camp near Sarai Kaale Khan.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, Delhi government, Delhi police and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), opposed their contention and said that “none of the daily wage workers are stranded and living in the open at Yamuna Pushta, as asserted by the petitioner”.

The ASG contended that there were 4,229 inhabitants living at Yamuna Pushta. “From out of the said 4,229 inhabitants, between April 14, 2020 to April 16, 2020, 3,600 have been shifted to different schools in East Delhi, West Delhi and North West Delhi. 600 have been shifted to the Yamuna Sports Complex and 358 have been shifted to Shelter Homes being run by the DUSIB.

“DUSIB has arranged make-shift shelters for them at whichever place they have been shifted to. Besides the above, arrangements have been made for providing free food, potable water, mobile toilet vans, sanitation and medical facilities,” ASG Jain said.

He further contended that “none of the municipal bodies are levying any charges for using public toilet facilities during the lockdown period”.

Shapoorji Pallonji’s counsel Manik Dogra submitted that “1,547 labour are residing at Sarai Kale Khan camp”, which is running smoothly. Dogra stated that the company is regularly releasing payments to all the sub-contractors and also the workers are provided food, toilets, power supply, fans and lights.

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