Will mediate between migrant labourers and government, says social activist Medha Patkar
Patkar is helping migrant workers stranded in Pune get back to their homesUpdated: May 23, 2020 16:08 IST
Social activist Medha Patkar said that migrant workers stranded in Pune are facing a lot of difficulties despite the arrangement of Shramik trains and private luxury buses. In the city to help the stranded get back to their home, Patkar spoke to Dheeraj Bengrut when she visited Bharati Vidyapeeth police station
What is your analysis of the current situation in Pune and across the state of stranded migrant workers and their travelling arrangements?
I started to work on this issue from May 6 from Madhya Pradesh and I am going to various districts in Maharashtra to check and help solve problems of migrant workers. One thing which I see everywhere is that they are not being treated well at most of the places by government agencies, police department and their employers. So they just want to go back to their home, but the issue is travelling. The decision taken by the Modi government to start special trains for these stranded people has been taken very late and they had given permission earlier to private transport vehicles to travel by road. The railway is the best transporting network of the public sector and the migrants were looted by the private sector earlier during the lockdown. They have come on India’s map for the first time as they are an unorganised sector, but are kept unsecured by the government till now. Most of them have not got salaries for the last two months and they are struggling for survival.
How are you and your team working to help the stranded in Pune?
Since the last three to four days, I am going across Pune and Pimpri- Chinchwad, visiting labour camps, government schools where these stranded have been kept and railway stations and state transport (ST) stands from where they are being sent. One thing is clear that there is a lack of coordination between the government agencies. For example, one train which went to Bihar on Thursday had few seats vacant. Luckily, some people who had registered to travel came to the railway station and were allowed to travel. Similarly for ST buses, for travelling within the state they should now send more buses and help these people.
My volunteers and I are now going to each of the police stations in each district of Maharashtra, including Pune. We are collecting data of people who have travelled, those who are still here and want to return to their homes and the technical issues they are facing or what any kind of help they need for survival in the city. We provide them all possible help.
What is your plan of action to address the issue?
We are collecting data from police stations and other government agencies across the state. We have made formats according to the states, where people want to travel and if they are still stuck here, we will become a mediator between them and the government agencies for their safe travel. This thing will go on for many more days and stranded people which include children, pregnant women and elderly people need to be taken care of. Today we don’t want to look into corruption as of now, but government officials and the police need to be alert and take proper steps.