Migrant workers start leaving Delhi, say Kejriwal should've given more time before announcing lockdown

Covid-19 lockdown-like measures introduced by several state governments, including Delhi, usually spell a loss of livelihood for many migrant workers working in India’s major cities.
A huge rush of migrant workers at Anand Vihar Bus Terminus hours before the week-long lockdown, in Ghaziabad, India, on Monday, April 19, 2021. (Raj K Raj / HT PHOTO)
A huge rush of migrant workers at Anand Vihar Bus Terminus hours before the week-long lockdown, in Ghaziabad, India, on Monday, April 19, 2021. (Raj K Raj / HT PHOTO)
Published on Apr 20, 2021 08:54 AM IST
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Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Joydeep Bose

Amid a massive surge in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in the national capital, scores of migrant workers were seen leaving Delhi throughout Monday, hours before the six-day lockdown came into effect at 10pm. Despite Arvind Kejriwal's appeal to the migrant workers to not leave Delhi over what he called a "short lockdown", the distressed workers waiting for hours at the bus stops claimed that the chief minister should have given more time before announcing the lockdown because, in the face of this crisis, the trip back home is now costing 10 times more.

Also Read: Record 240 deaths in Delhi, more than 23,000 Covid-19 cases

"We are daily wagers, the chief minister should have given us some time before announcing the lockdown," one of the migrant labourers told news agency ANI during their long wait at the bus station. "It takes us 200 to reach home, but they are charging 3,000 to 4,000 now, how will we go home?" they added.

Covid-19 protocols and social distancing went for a toss, the news agency reported, as hundreds of migrant workers thronged the Anand Vihar Bus Terminal in Delhi on Monday evening to board the buses for their native places, many of them waiting for hours. Exhausted women and children were seen laying on the ground with their heads on sacks looking numbly at the hustle, as more migrant workers joined the crowd in the bus terminal with heavy loads on their heads and shoulders. Several others were seen climbing atop buses that were leaving the station.

The situation wasn't much different in Ghazipur or in Ghaziabad's Kaushambi, where the scene was reminiscent of the mass exodus of people from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar last year when migrant workers had gathered in thousands at Anand Vihar after the central government announced a lockdown in March.

Also Read: 'It's a short lockdown, don't leave Delhi': Kejriwal's appeal to migrant workers

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced a six-day Covid-19 lockdown from 10pm on April 19 till 5am on April 26 and urged migrant workers to not leave the national capital during this period. Kejriwal pointed out that its duration being only six days, the present lockdown was a relatively "short" one, and promised that the government will "take care" of them through this crisis. He also assured that the Delhi government will be working hard to ensure adequate medical facilities in the national capital and remained hopeful that the government won't need to extend the current lockdown any further.

Lockdown-like measures introduced by several state governments usually spell a loss of livelihood for many migrant workers working in India’s major cities. These migrant workers, who form an essential part of any city’s economy, faced difficulties when the Centre imposed its first lockdown in 2020 following the first wave of Covid-19. Most of them were unable to find transport and had to walk home in desperation and many died due to exertion and lack of food.

Delhi on Monday reported a record of 240 deaths due to Covid-19, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic last year, and 23,686 cases with a positivity rate of 26.12%, according to official data. The national capital has reported 823 deaths due to the infectious disease in the last five days, with the fourth wave of infections being the worst so far in the city.

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Monday, November 29, 2021