A flyover in Jalandhar has becomes home to hundreds of migrants for the past ten days in hope of getting a nod to enter a Covid screening centre which the last stop for Shramik train journey. This screening centre just across the road is where Shramik train tickets are issued after medical check-up.
Near this flyover at the Pathankot bypass on National Highway-1 in Jalandhar, there are no public toilets and no facility for washing hands. But over the last 10 days, makeshift huts have come up.
While migrants insist that they will wait here till they get a call to board the Shramik train, the administration has made no effort to install foot-operated water tanks or provide sanitisers.
“Haath kanha se dhoyen, yehan peene ko hi paani mil jaye to ganimat hai. Itni door se botal bhar ke laten hain uss se bhi haath dho liya to kaya pilaenge chhote chhote bachon kon. Sarkar dekhe ki kaise din bita rahe hain hum train ke intzar mein (From where will we get water to wash our hands. Getting water to drink is difficult here. We fetch water from afar, if we wash hands with it, then what will our kids drink),” said Rupali, wife of Gajendra from Bihar. The family is living here with their three children for over one week.
She added: “We are finding open places in the surrounding areas to answer the nature’s calls and there is no water available.” Pointing out that they were sleeping on the ground and children were urinating all around, she added that maintaining personal hygiene in these circumstances was not possible.
Chhote Ram (20) from Motihari district in Bihar, who was expelled by the plywood factory in Punjabi Bagh area, too has staying under this flyover for the past four days. “I have left my rented room and now there is no other place to live but to sit here and wait for my turn,” he said, adding that some people were serving langar to them here.
Nagendra, who has made the flyover his home for the past five days, said that he had come to Jalandhar from Siwan in March to work on construction sites, but he could not find work.
Huddled under the flyover for almost a one km stretch, there were hundreds of migrants.
A police officer on duty here said that a large number were turning up hoping that mere proximity to the screening centre would help them get tickets.
“We made announcements that ticket will be given only when they will get confirmation SMS and they should not come here before getting such SMS on their mobiles but they are not ready to move from here,” said SHO Inspector Sukhjit Singh of Police Division-8 under which the area falls, adding that they cannot even make circles here as it is a public road and national highway.
“They are coming from Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur district while we can give only 1200 tickets daily from this screening center,” he said.
About no availability of public toilets and handwashing facilities, he said that this was true but still migrants were not ready to leave.
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