Provide ration or send us home, migrants stranded in Noida plead with govtUpdated: Apr 30, 2020 22:51 IST
With the community kitchen meals proving to be insufficient to feed the many people from different states stranded in the city due to the lockdown, there is palpable tension of the ground with them demanding that either the government find a way to send them back home or provide ration for sustenance.
The union home ministry had recently allowed states to return migrant workers to their homes.
In Shahdara village in Noida’s sector 141, the residents come from different states -- Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and West Bengal, among others -- but they have the same trouble: no money and often go to sleep hungry.
“All our savings are over and we don’t know what to do. We have children to feed and the food being served at the village through community kitchen is not enough. We have no work and thus no earnings since the past two months, and soon we won’t be able to afford both ration for the family and milk for children. We request that either government send us ration or make some arrangements to send back home,” said Jyoti Sahu, who hails from Damoh district in Madhya Pradesh and works as domestic help in the neighbouring highrises in Sector 137. She lives with her in-laws – a large family of 25 people comprising 12 children. They had all come to Noida in search of work, now they wished to return.
The Sahu family, along with their neighbours and other migrants stranded in Shahdara village also claimed that despite holding a Jan Dhan Account, they did not receive government funds either. In April, the Union government had promised to transfer ₹1,500 to these accounts held by women.
“The family I worked for helped me a lot, they even provided ration but how long can they feed us? We would need help from the government. We also did not receive money in our account, while some back in our village in Madhya Pradesh did,” says Maya Rani Sahu and Anita Sahu, who also work as domestic help at the neighbouring highrises.
Their landlord understood their predicament and did not ask for rent.
“Some 20 days back during the first lockdown, out of hundreds living here only 10 families received ration packets that had two kilo rice and atta and one kilo channa dal. There was no oil, vegetables, salt or spices. Many families who are my tenants approached me for help, so I dialled the helpline number at 0120-2425025, seeking ration but no help followed,” said Ashok Sharma, the landlord who has rented rooms to more than ten such migrant families in the village.
Laxmi Devi, a domestic help who migrated from Siwan district, Bihar was another marred by the lockdown.
“Before Holi, my husband went to Bhopal for work and got stuck there. I work as a domestic help here and have a seven-month-old baby girl. I don’t have enough money to sustain longer and baby food is expensive. If only we can go back home, most of our problems would be solved,” says Laxmi.
Suman Bhartiyal, migrant from Champawat district in Uttarakhand was another sufferer with a toddler to feed and limited ration to sustain.
“My baby is not even a year old, so I cannot walk back home. If only we get chance or government arranges a bus, we all want to go home,”” says Bhartiyal
Shanti Haldar, another migrant who hails from Malda in West Bengal and worked here at a construction site had similar story of no support from government and a sustenance that runs on credit.
According to the officials however, the ration distribution will begin soon. Officials said that while the administration has already given orders to initiate the distribution of ration on priority basis to the ration card holders, a separate database is being worked upon to recognise the needy families without a ration card.
“We have over 1,85,000 families with ration card in the district of which 7,897 are Antyodaya card holder and remaining are PHH (person house hold ) card holder. The distribution is set to begin in two phase from May 1 to 12 and May 15 to 26. But these benefits are for the card holders from within the state. For the migrants, who don’t have ration card or are the families in need, separate arrangements are being made. A database is being developed to recognise those in need and they will get a package that contains nine items including rice, pulses, atta, spices, salt, oil and vegetables,” said RN Yadav, district supply officer, Gautam Budh Nagar.