Pune police provide transport facility to stranded workers
After being stranded for about two days without a roof, a group of about 40 migrant labourers were provided with a private bus by the Pune Police to take them to Madhya Pradesh.
At least 30 to 40 migrant labourers took shelter at an open ground near a temple in Vadarwadi, Vishrantwadi after they were left out of the process of boarding a bus which was supposed to take them to the Pune railway station to board the Shramik Express on Monday.
The labourers were natives of Damoh, Jabalpur, Narsinghpur, and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh.
On Tuesday morning the wage labourers were seen camped outside Vishrantwadi police station.
Having been left stranded outside the police station for a day, the labourers went back to their houses in Vadar Vasti area of Vishrantwadi. The workers, however, allege to have been barred from using the houses they had just left unless they pay rent. As the families had nowhere to go they took shelter at an open ground near a temple in Vadarwadi, Vishrantwadi to sleep.
They were provided with food by the police station officials on Tuesday evening.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), in the evening we got food, and the police then asked us to adjust for one more day,” said Anil Pal, 18, a migrant labourer.
“When we went back to the room on Sunday night, the owner refused to open the locks. He said now we will have to pay rent or pay money to use it for one day. So we spent the night in an open ground near the temple,” said Pal.
“In the morning (on Wednesday) the police gave us food, sanitiser and masks and a doctor used a machine to check our temperature and we were told to board a bus which will take us to Pune station and later a train to the border of Madhya Pradesh (MP),” said Pal.
“After that, we have no idea what will be done. The police were saying that maybe the local government there (in MP) will make some arrangements,” he added.
While some labourers had come to the city a few months ago, some had reached merely days before the lockdown was announced.
Babita Pal, a woman in her 20s with speech impairment, looked on in desperation to find someone who would understand her. Babita was with her husband and a 4-year-old daughter Vaishnavi. While Vaishnavi clutched on to a packet of biscuits unaware of the chaos.
“We have been waiting here to be able to go home. The questions that we ask officials remain all unanswered. I had reached here only five-six days before the lockdown was announced. Since then, I have had no work or money,” said Loh Chand, a man in his 40s, travelling with three other family members.
The daily wage earners landed at the police station as they had responded to police calls stating their application had been approved and that they will be put on a bus to the railway station, according to multiple people’s accounts.
According to Pournima Gaikwad, DCP, zone 3, said, “Sometimes real count of labourers is higher than the train accommodation. There are few such occasions where we are not able to rehabilitate the labourers (who have left rented home and cannot go back) we take care of their food and accommodation.”
“We have made plans to erect temporary shelters for people who are found walking in an attempt to reach home in a different state. They will be provided with food, water, and a space to rest until an accommodation is arranged. We are trying to get the PMC to accommodate them in the shelters for homeless,” said DCP Gaikwad.
“We are helping in whatever way we can. In our zone, we have started asking private buses to take people to their states for whoever is willing to pay for the service,” said DCP Pankaj Deshmukh of zone 4.
“The private buses also need money to complete the journey. We are urging them to keep the cost as low as possible. We have also made arrangements for doctors for screening and food in a parking lot in Kharadi,” said DCP Deshmukh.
“The police at the local level are making as many arrangements as they can. Every zone gets to release only a certain number of people in PMPML buses to the train station as the trains are limited. The information is provided five to six hours prior to the train departure,” according to DCP Gaikwad.
In the limited time, hopeful travellers are called upon; some make it to the train, some are left behind, she added.