In order to arrest the exodus of migrant workers from urban centres, Gujarat government on Friday decided to disallow migrant workers from walking back to their native villages or towns.
“In the last two days, a number of migrant workers, including those from Dahod and Panchmahal districts, have been walking back to their homes during this lockdown period. The state government had arranged 150 GSRTC buses and 500 private vehicles to transport them from Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar to state border with Rajasthan and their respective districts,” said Ashwini Kumar, secretary to the chief minister.
The official while interacting with mediapersons could not put a figure to the number of workers assisted by the government by providing transportation during this period.
Harsh Mander writes: State’s measures to fight coronavirus are stripping the poor of dignity and hope
“From now on, the state government will not allow any labourer or worker to walk on the roads during lockdown,” the IAS officer said asking the remaining migrant workforce to stay put in their respective towns and cities. He said, on Thursday, the chief minister has already issued orders to industrial units and factories to not force any of their workers to leave town.
“This problem is still there… Nobody should walk and leave for their native places. Nobody will be allowed to walk. They should stick to their current locations,” Kumar reiterated while adding that the state government will be making arrangements for their stay and food.
“Being a industrial and a progressive state, a lot of migrant workers come to Gujarat for employment including those from Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. If they are facing any problems of food and shelter then they should call up the district control rooms on 1077. The district collector will ensure that their needs are taken care of,” the official said.
People from Gujarat who have got stranded in other states need to call the state control room at 1070 and the government will touch base with the “Gujarati Samaj” of that particular state and will arrange for food and shelter on an immediate basis, the official said. The government also has decided to temporarily do away with the biometric system and provide the promised free rations for the month of April through “offline verification” at fair-price shops in Gujarat.
3500-plus people contribute to CM’s relief fund
Talking about the people or institutions who have contributed to the CM’s relief fund, Kumar said more than 3,500 people have already contributed to this fund in the last two days. Among those who contributed significant sums to fight Corona virus are former chief minister of Gujarat Keshubhai Patel who has donated Rs 1 lakh. Apart from him, Somanth Trust has contributed Rs 1 crore, Kundaldham Swamynarayan Mandir has contributed Rs 25 lakh, Sardardham contributed Rs 21 lakh, Khodaldham Rs 21 lakh.
Rajkot: 50 buses deployed to ferry migrant labourers to eastern Gujarat, MP
After hordes of migrant labourers started emptying out from Rajkot city and nearby factories, and took the National Highway (NH) 27 to return to their native places on foot, the Rajkot district administration deployed 50 buses on late Thursday to ferry them to their respective destinations. The move comes amid the suspension of road and railway services by the government in an effort to contain spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The exodus continued on Friday even as the government tried to keep them at their places of work.
A large group of labourers had assembled at Indira Circle around noon on Thursday. Police officials served them meals and president of Rajkot Builders’ Association, Paresh Gajera attempted to pacify them. The labourers, however, continued to head out of the city.
Many others from factories, construction sites and agricultural fields also took the same highway. By evening, hundreds of labourers had gathered at Maliyasan village, around 10 km east of Rajkot on NH 27. Several other groups continued to walk farther and reached as far as Kuvadva, around 18 km away from the city.
A sub-divisional magistrate and police officials tried to persuade the labourers to return to their places of work, but to no avail. As the numbers crossed 2,000, the Rajkot district administration deployed 50 buses of the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) for the assistance of the labourers.
“These are the people who were stranded on the road and had no particular place to go to. Some of them have come from Morbi. Buses have been deployed to ensure they are not stranded on the road without food and water. Many of them were extremely resistant to the idea of staying back. This arrangement is only a one-day thing, it will not continue. It is being done to prevent a law and order situation that may arise out of thousands of people gathering at one place,” Rajkot district Collector Remya Mohan told The Indian Express.
The collector said her office had asked industrialists and other employers to take some of the labourers back. “We had issued very strict instructions that not a single person should be allowed outside. They (employers’) should take care of them (migrant labourers), it is their responsibility,” Mohan said. “Many of the people we interviewed insisted on returning to their homes since the factories are not running. They were also of the view that they will be safer in their villages…it is also a psychological aspect. They want to be with their families. It is a very difficult situation.”
She further said that many labourers are natives of Dahod district in eastern Gujarat, while some are from Madhya Pradesh. “Those who are from Dahod would be dropped there, we are in touch with the district administration there.
The government (of MP) will have to take the labourers from the border onwards,” the collector said, adding that they were staggering people on the highway in order to avoid assembly of large groups at one place. “We are assessing their health conditions before allowing them to board buses.”
Rajkot divisional controller of GSRTC, Yogesh Patel said the buses would go till the Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh state border. “We have orders to ferry people till that point. But we are afraid the number of people who want to return to their homes may overwhelm us,” said Patel.
On Friday, the collector held a meeting with industry association leaders and asked them to take care of their labourers. Rajkot city Police Commissioner Manoj Agarwal and Rajkot (rural) Superintendent of Police Balram Meena also issued statements, saying that NGOs and government officials were ready to assist employers, but insisted that labourers be not allowed to leave their places. Nonetheless, the exodus was on till Friday evening even as police tried to use restrain.
“The factory in Vavdi where I work has shut down and there is no work. There is a limit to the capacity of the sheth (factory owner) to help us. We can’t afford to purchase articles of daily use when there is no work. Therefore, we want to return to our home,” Ashwin Senva (29), a native of Dakor in central Gujarat said.
Senva, his wife and their two children — a three-year-old son and a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter — boarded a goods carriage from near their factory. The vehicle was stopped by police near Maliyasan and everyone was asked to get down. However, they said that people were helping them with food and water along the road.
“I left my hut in Ravki village and started walking but here, there are neither buses nor private vehicles. I had sent money to my home in Jabua (Madhya Pradesh) recently, and had kept only Rs 1,500 with me. But then, work stopped. I am left with only Rs 1,000 now,” said Raju Kharadi (25) while resting under a tree on the highway with his wife and three children. Kharadi and his wife used to work as agricultural labourers in Ravki.
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