A DAY after nearly 2,000 migrant workers living in Bandra gathered on the road in a display of their anger and frustration at the extended lockdown, a federation of organisations wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray seeking that the state make arrangements for the safe repatriation of the lakhs of migrants stranded in Maharashtra.
The letter, written by organisations working on issues ranging from food security to distress migration, also urged Uddhav to mandate payment of full wages to the labourers, including arrears, by establishing a fast-track legal aid and grievance response system.
Stating that the numbers of migrants in Maharashtra appear larger than official estimates, the letter said these daily wage labourers, head-loaders, construction workers, street vendors, domestic workers, security guards, small-scale manufacturers and others are not represented by unions or associations and are suffering due to the non-portability of state entitlements such as the public distribution system’s (PDS) subsidised foodgrain.
“We strongly urge the government of Maharashtra to not let these workers become stateless, jobless and shelterless, and address their needs in an urgent manner,” said the letter, which is signed by, among others, Habitat and Welfare Livelihood Association, Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan, Ghar Banao Ghar Bachao Aandolan, Centre for Promoting Democracy, faculty members from TISS and other academicians.
Among their demands are adequate and sanitary shelters as well as shelter-like conditions where migrants currently live; universalisation of the PDS and provision of groceries instead of cooked food, as many are unable to go to shelters providing cooked food or the government’s Shiv Bhojan thalis; and community kitchens for those who do not have access to cooking materials, particularly the homeless.
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