With thousands of out-of-work daily wagers stranded away from home at various places across the country due to the lockdown, opposition parties on Friday mounted pressure on the Centre as well as state governments to step in urgently and help them reach their villages or open temporary shelters with adequate supply of food for them.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to intervene. She argued that lakhs of migrant workers are being forced to walk hundreds of miles as there is no public transport available and that several others are stuck in guest houses or hotels and have run out of money to pay their costs.
Arguing that the lockdown is beginning to have a detrimental effect on thousands of such people, she asked him to issue a “national advisory” to assist those who are trapped in transit.
In her letter — the third to the Prime Minister this week — Gandhi wrote, “I am taking the liberty to suggest two.measures. One-time state transport services be made available to those who are walking to their home towns or villages (and) district collectors to extend all possible assistance to those who can no longer afford to stay in lodges or guest houses.”
AICC general secretary in-charge of UP Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wrote to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, urging his government to take steps to help the stranded workers.
“Workers from Uttar Pradesh travel to distant areas to earn their livelihood. Today they are in dire straits after the lockdown.I request you to take steps to help those stranded workers reach home…If a large number of people are stuck on the roads. government schools and colleges can be opened to provide them shelter..,” she said.
She also asked him to speak to his counterparts in other states and work in cooperation with them to guarantee them work security.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel too asked the Central government to “issue a directive to enable one-time train/bus service” to help the stranded reach home. “If we can evacuate Indians stranded in foreign soil why not assist those stranded on domestic soil?” he said.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “Lakhs are already on the roads having left their workplace. Centre must establish camps with assured food supplies of food and other needs. Or, arrange transportation to their homes. Unless done we cannot contain community spread of COVID-19. The Centre has obviously not thought through the lockdown, which has been announced abruptly. The biggest uprooting of lives of India’s most marginalised must be prevented by the Centre. Transport them to safety: cannot simply deflect responsibility to states.”
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav asked the UP government to order district authorities to distribute food packets to those stranded on the roads. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to her counterparts of 18 states to arrange for basic shelter, food and medical support from workers from her state stranded in these states.
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