Delhi ministers, MLAs try to convince migrant workers to stay back

Hundreds of migrant workers are leaving the city amid the lockdown

Migrant workers are trying to board a bus at Anand Vihar bus station in Delhi | Arvind K. Jain Migrant workers are trying to board a bus at Anand Vihar bus station in Delhi | Arvind K. Jain

Ministers of the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi and MLAs of the ruling Aam Admi Party, representing areas on the outskirts of the city, have been put on the job to try and convince migrant workers headed back to their home states on foot to stay back in the national capital as the mass reverse-migration threatens to increase the spread of coronavirus.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was seen in a video interacting with a group of migrants headed out of Delhi, trying to convince them to stay back, telling them they would be provided free meals and a place to stay by his government.

Minister for Social Welfare Rajendra Pal Gautam visited Anand Vihar depot on the eastern border of Delhi, where hundreds of migrants were attempting to leave the city amid the lockdown.

Gautam requested them to stay back in Delhi, telling them that the government has made special arrangements for their food and other basic necessities in various shelters across Delhi.

“The purpose of the lockdown is to stop the transmission of this virus. We are extremely concerned about the health of the citizens and it is my appeal to everyone to not put their lives on risk. We are here to look after their food, shelter and other necessities. We request them to stay indoors during this crucial time and go out only when it is necessary,” Gautam said.

A large number of poor migrants and daily wage labourers have been adversely affected and forced to leave their homes in Delhi.

The Delhi government has deployed 100 buses to transport people who are walking back to their respective home states.

A major reason that has emerged for the migrant labourers wanting to go back is that they are not sure how long the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus will continue. The lack of clarity on when the situation will come back to normal is prompting them to take the risk of walking hundreds of kilometres to reach their villages.

“We have managed to convince some people to not leave Delhi. We have told them that we will arrange for food and shelter for them. But they are worried about their future,” said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Delhi government has taken up the mammoth task of feeding four lakh people every day. Free meals are being provided at 568 schools and 238 night shelters in the capital. Flying squads have also been formed to deliver food packets to the poor.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government has begun distributing free rations to the beneficiaries under the Public Distribution Scheme. As much as 7.5 kg of rice or wheat will be given free to 71 lakh people.

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