By Arré Bench Apr. 28, 2020
A Delhi Police report on migrant camps from Central Delhi flagged many issues such as poor sanitation of toilets, bad food quality, and mosquito infestations. Life for India’s most vulnerable migrant workers continues to get worse.
The coronavirus pandemic has extracted a disproportionate cost out of the most vulnerable in our society, the poor migrants. Many have walked hundreds of kilometres to get back to their homes, others have had to stay days on end with several other people in a dingy 8X8 rooms, most have inadequate food to eat and no money to spend but a family to take care of regardless. Many migrants have been housed in migrant camps and conditions are far from liveable.
A Delhi Police report on migrant camps from Central Delhi flagged many issues such as fans not working, poor sanitation of toilets, bad food quality, no hand wash or sanitizers, foul smell in toilets, no detergent for washing clothes and mosquito bites. The Central District administration directed officials to take remedial action based on the report within 24 hours.
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) April 28, 2020
Meanwhile, YK Jhuggi is home to over 1,200 households, mostly farmers and labourers. Before the lockdown, they had filled water from places of work but are now trying to filter brackish muddy water with DIY sediment filters. People from this basti who grow their own vegetables can’t access them for fear of the police. Main requirements right now are material for roofing, clean drinking water, foodgrains and other ration essentials for those who don’t have ration cards, money and means.
YK Juggi in Chilla Khadar (right off the DND) a small habitation of ~1200+ households. Small farmers (who rent the land) and laborers.
Pre-lockdown ppl filled water from places of work but are now trying to filter brackish muddy water with DIY sediment filters. @AAPDelhi pic.twitter.com/UycEJaKzw7
— Nishita Jha (@NishSwish) April 28, 2020
A group of migrant workers stuck in Bengal from Delhi had rotis with water last night as they have run out of food rations and food relief camps close by are shut. The situation is dire for thousands across the country.
Got another call from this group of migrant workers from Bengal stuck in Delhi. They had rotis with water last night. Have run out of food rations. Food relief camp close by shut. Please help @CMODelhi @MamataOfficial @derekobrienmp @rozi_roti #coronavirus #Lockdownextention https://t.co/O20qbh0Dzc
— Sayantan Bera (@sayantanbera) April 28, 2020
Even though the government assured that migrants weren’t on the roads anymore and they would be taken care of through stay, food, and monetary assistance, the reality is far from it. Both on the Agra-Delhi Expressway as well as the Kota-Indore National Highway, migrant workers are still seen walking long distances, at times even 500 kilometres.
This week, twice, in different states, first on the Agra-Delhi Expressway & now on the Kota- Indore National Highway, I walk with Migrant Workers, Men, Women & Small Children. These are Jeera cutters, who've walked 500 kms from Ramdevra & are headed to M.P. India's Invisible. pic.twitter.com/csiZM1Sckp
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) April 25, 2020
For the third time in a month, migrant workers in Surat were out on the roads and went on a rampage. Labourers protested and pelted stones at the office of Diamond Bourse in Surat, alleging that they were made to work amid the lockdown and demanded to be sent back to their native places.
Visuals from PM Modi ji's home state- Hundreds of migrant labourers in Surat went on rampage, damaged glass walls & vehicles demanding permission to go back home. Media won't show this because there is no mosque near the protest site! pic.twitter.com/Qo06hF57c6
— Salman Nizami (@SalmanNizami_) April 28, 2020
The migrant situation is quite fragile in many parts of the country and while a financial package was announced, much more will have to be done to ensure that migrants can handle the crisis with a decent place to live in, have clean water to drink, food to eat and some money to spend. India cannot afford to fail the backbone of our society and our economy.