Activists, volunteers and concerned citizens working together as 'Advocacy Covid Lockdown Collective' has written a letter to the Chief Minister of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao regarding their concerns for migrant workers returning back to home states. The collective has also given a list of suggestions.
Following the order from of the State Human Rights Commission on May 5, the Government of Telangana has requested the South Central Railways (SCR) to run 40 trains per day for over a week to facilitate the return of the migrant workers. Thereafter, media reports indicate that about 50,822 migrant workers have reached their home states in almost 45 trains, pointed the Collective.
"However, our collective experience in the past one week has been that, compared to the actual requirement and requisition, fewer trains have run and there are still a large number of workers who are awaiting return," stated the Collective in it's letter.
They have also noted their observations and suggestions. Here is a gist:
- Shortage of Trains vis-Ã -vis the massive number of migrant workers wanting to go home.
- Limited registration of only 200 persons per day per police station.
- Lack of clear guidance, transparency, delays and uncertainty in the process of issuing of movement pass, receipt of confirmed SMS for travel etc, leading to intense desperation amongst workers and decision to walk long distances.
- Inadequate Information available with ground staff and police to guide workers.
- Uncertainty of local travel from the site of the worker till the railway station.
- Disowning of responsibility by contractors to provide food and shelter since the Shramik Special trains have begun!
- Lack of food, water and shelters at railway stations and highways for thousands of workers walking long distances to reach their native places, along with their families, women, children and entire luggage.
- Very clear step-by-step instructions in text as well as pre-recorded audio and video in Hindi, Odiya, Bangla etc about the entire manner of online and offline registration and travel process must be made available and widely publicized.
- A vibrant mechanism from district level, downwards to provide food, shelter, sanitation and medication to all migrants, with particular attention to elderly, pregnant and lactating women and children, until their return must be ensured
- Food must be provided at least twice a day at all major railway stations and highways. Considering the peak summer heat, large numbers of water kiosks must be set up all along the highways
- Strict instructions must be given to police at all railway stations and other places to not ill-treat, drive away, harass or beat the workers under any circumstances.
- A state-wide toll free, 24 x 7 functional helpline exclusively for migrant return must be immediately set up
- The State Government must come up with a long term â€˜Telangana Migrant Workers Action Planâ€™ at the earliest, since a very large number of workers have lost livelihoods and are rendered impoverished due to the lockdown.