A mammoth human catastrophe is unfolding in Delhi which is also on on smaller scale in other states. Thousands of men, women, children and aged in a city which knows it houses a massive number of daily expense earners, are standing at interstate bus stations waiting to return to their homes. Massive numbers stand cramped together while rulers preach distancing. They are hungry, desperate and shelterless in a city whose CM woke up on the third day of the lockdown to say 2 lakh hungry would be fed as compared to 20,000 a day earlier and the 4 lakh who would be fed from Sunday. So the number hungry and unfed for four days is some lakhs, the Delhi CM has acknowledged. Shut schools will be opened as shelter homes from day four; did the administration care that they had no roof for three nights? Delhi IFTU leaders echo workers who said the helpline numbers for food assistance were ‘always engaged’. Is it any wonder that the people are fleeing back home? Now on the third day of the catastrophe the Delhi CM is asking them to wait, holding out promises of ‘tomorrow’.
What covid 19 will do will come later; hunger and fatigue may just act first. It is a lesson of how anti people, callous governments are ruining even the preventive lockdown which was a measure to maintain physical distancing and prevent spread of a pandemic. The same Govts earlier dithered in preventing entry of flights from abroad and in enforcing quarantine of 15 days on every single person entering the country from abroad.
The Delhi Govt must open schools right now. Cooked food should be distributed now in schools, govt buildings around the inter-state bus terminals and at the terminals themselves. Announcements over PAS system should request the people to rest in the opened shelters and they should be provided facilities tomorrow to make safe and dignified exits instead of having to stuff themselves pell mell into the UP bound buses. The Delhi Govt should use that time to actually present the people the feasible alternatives which might make them choose to stay.
The place of the Delhi Govt and its ministers and its machinery is at the bus terminals where stand Delhi’s migrant workers and their families. Does the Delhi Govt care? Is it serious about fighting this pandemic? Does it or the Central Govt realize the need to act for defending people’s health and lives?
National Committee IFTU.
March 28, 2020