Delhi govt offers financial aid, free shelter and food to prevent exodus
On a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation in the wake of the unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases across the country, and said states should see lockdown as a “last resort” and must do everything to ensure the well-being of migrants, the Delhi government said it will once again start providing a financial assistance of ₹5,000 to 171, 861 workers registered with the Delhi Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (DBOCWW).
In view of the week-long lockdown imposed to curb the spiralling spread of Covid-19 in the national capital, the government also said it will also provide free shelter, food and medicines at 205 night shelters across the city.
Based on ground reports and media visuals of thousands of migrant workers congregating at the Delhi-UP border and around the Anand Vihar interstate bus terminal throughout Monday, hours after the Delhi government announced the week-long curfew, lieutenant-governor Anil Baijal called for an “emergency meeting” with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal at 11am on Tuesday. Chief secretary Vijay Dev was also present at the meeting where these decisions for the welfare of migrant workers were finalised.
A senior government official clarified that the DBOCWW does not have only construction workers registered with it. “The Board has a variety of other daily wagers, including electricians, plumbers, carpenters and so on. Most of them are migrant workers, and, as on date, we have 171,861 workers registered with DBOCWW and the registration will be open throughout the lockdown so that more workers can avail of the government’s financial assistance. The amount of ₹5,000 will be directly sent to the bank accounts of all registered workers as a means of sustenance during this ongoing lockdown,” said a senior official of the labour department, asking not to be named.
During the nationwide lockdown last year, the Delhi government had provided ₹5,000 to each registered worker twice (amounting to a total of ₹10,000 per worker). At least 47,247 workers availed of the benefit back then.
Baijal on Tuesday also appealed to all migrant workers to stay put and not leave the capital. He assured them that the government has made adequate arrangements to sustain them through the week comfortably.
“I appeal to all migrant workers to not leave Delhi in panic. I assure you that the government will take care of all your needs during this surge in Covid-19 cases. All necessary arrangements are being made for you. You run Delhi with your tireless hard work and this city is yours,” Baijal tweeted in Hindi.
Modi also made a similar appeal on Tuesday evening in his nationwide address. “We assure migrants that they will soon be vaccinated in the city where they are residing and their livelihood will also not be affected,” he said in the televised address.
After the meeting with the L-G and the CM, chief secretary Dev issued two orders on behalf of the Delhi disaster management authority (DDMA) on Tuesday evening.
In the first order, the DDMA constituted a committees comprising six members with principal secretary (home) BS Bhalla as chairperson, and tasked it with ensuring basic amenities such as food, water, sanitation, shelters and medicines for daily wagers and migrant labourers, including those at construction sites. It also tied up with midday meal contractors for preparing enough meals for thousands of workers and their families who are likely to avail of the welfare measures in the coming days.
In the second order, the DDMA appointed Bhalla as the “state nodal officer for Delhi” for coordinating and supervising all matters pertaining to welfare and movement of migrant workers. To ensure proper coordination with the Delhi Police for the same, Rajesh Khurana, special commissioner of police (central range) has been appointed the “nodal officer of Delhi Police’’.
The DDMA also asked all district magistrates and DCPs to enquire after migrants worker welfare in their districts. They have been also directed to continuously make announcements to calm the fears of migrant workers.
“At least 205 night shelters are being opened for migrant workers and their families. Everything they need, will be provided for. Respective DMs and DCPs will ensure arrangements in their zones,” said Dev.