Account of a migrant worker evacuation program from Gujarat

NewsBharati    01-Jun-2020
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-Gopal Goswami
 
The country saw three levels of protection to the marginalised and workers all over the country in this coronavirus pandemic. From 3rd day of lockdown, people with greater heart and humility started concern over the food of the daily wage workers which are large and unorganised in every city. Rahul Sharma a young social worker started kitchen in Surat with 600 tiffins a day reached 50000 tiffins within 10 days with the help of Shyam Mandir temple, local MLA Zankhana Patel joined the group shortly, imagine the kind of mobilisation, resources, finances and teamwork is required. Rahul and his team Dinesh Rajpurohit & team have worked day night and also catered food to the trains being sent from Surat for their onboard meals.
 
Another such example is Dhaneshwar Jena who spent entire savings kept for his son's good schooling for preparing tiffins for the migrant workers, Jena fed 3000 people each day for over 40 days with help pouring in later. Many residents fed workers in the vicinity by cooking at home and fed them for days put together. So the first layer of social security emerged from the neighbourhood, second from the community as social workers and social organisations and at last, there was the local government, the municipal corporations fed thousands of people by setting up kitchens in the areas where migrant workers were in plenty.
 
migrant worker _1 &n 
 
Social organisation like RSS has delivered 2 lakh ration kits enough for 15 days for a family of four in Surat city which was a huge help to people till date. After a long period of 45 days of the lockdown, the Govt in last week of April started easing out the intra-state movement of migrant workers stuck in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi-NCR and other parts of the nation firstly by private vehicles e.g. buses, cars, taxis etc. Soon the government realised that this would not suffice the purpose of the poor workers who must have lost all the savings in the lockdown on food and decided to run Shramik special trains from origin to destination. Many states came forward and accepted the task of evacuating workers from other states, UP being the first to send consent to other states to allow inward trains.
 
GOI has declared 85% concession and advised states to born the rest. This was the real hiccup as individuals, social groups organising workers from origin started taking advantage and selling the tickets on premium and the whole process got stuck in between. In the meantime, CM of Uttarakhand Sri Trivendra Rawat did a landmark thing by declaring to bring back the migrants free of cost up to their home, this idea abolished the whole corruption proceeds as there was no transaction between local groups and migrant workers. The ideas were such a hit that UP CM Yogi Aditya Nath also adopted this model and Nitish Kumar CM Bihar followed it.
 
I was part and parcel of the team engaged for the evacuation of Uttarakhand migrant workers from Gujarat, and this is a first-hand account of the experience with the bureaucracy of two states, police, local administration. For my surprise I found the most efficient bureaucrats working day and night, the new face of police which was a complete surprise as they served water, food, snacks, milk and chocolates for children. The local Municipal staff, the medical team engaged for the check-up, the buses deployed by the local government for transportation up to railway station. We found each of the worker, officer, bureaucrats extremely cooperative just opposite to what they are believed to be. We have asked for 5 buses from the government of Gujarat but when Buses arrived at Rajkot, Jamnagar, Dwarka, Gandhidham, Bhuj and Morbi there were 600 people queuing up to board the buses , Sri Dhananjay Dwivedi IAS arranged 20 buses without raising a word, such was the level of commitment from all stake holders that the people should reach their homes.
 
The Indian Railway did fantastic job by making all arrangement for passenger safety, social distancing and there food, passenger were served free breakfast , lunch & dinner with water hence we discard the fake news factories claim of hunger deaths in trains.
 
From Ahmedabad the district administration cooperated Sri Virendra Rawat in all possible manner to send prawasis from that region, RSS workers helped him lot in arranging the things at ground. The kind of love and affection they received from the people was also immense, this pandemic has turned the human behaviour to its core again a much-needed gesture from those in power. The smooth coordination between railway, Police, Medical Teams, Municipal corporation from under one single roof at Jilla Seva Sadan or Collectorate was for a pleasant surprise.
 
Contrary to this Mumbai has a population of migrants from Uttarakhand in the tune of over two lakh, its huge as compare to Gujarat. As on date only 3000 people have been evacuated in last one month shows the efficiency of bureaucracy and social workers. People are still stranded and there is very slow pace of evacuation. It was same seen at Kathgodam and Haridwar in Uttrakhand the workers were received pleasantly and treated well by the local administration. Sri Shailesh Bagoli & Young IPS Manjunath were extremely cooperative. All reached home without spending a single penny out of their pocket. That was the biggest achievement of the Uttarakhand government in my view.
 
 
The entire team of Uttarakhand cultural committee (Bhupendra,Surendra,Manish,Kesar,Jogachandra,Tiwari,Dhiraj,Dinesh ) worked 20 hours a day in tandem to collect the data of people from different part of Gujarat , complied it and called them personally on the day of departure until railway station to send them off. We could manage to send approximately 8000 people from Gujarat via five trains and 20 buses from Saurashtra and Kutch from 9 - 18 May operation. I personally received over 20 K phone calls within 10 days and worked over 20 hours a day with a satisfaction to see a smiling face waving hands in gratitude. What impact this pandemic will bring in that is a matter of time to come but one thing is sure we will someway turn towards the basic human values and will respect the nature and relationship more than material.