How flurry of meetings paved the way for migrant workers’ bus ride home
The improvement in their lot came about after the phenomenon of hapless workers walking long distances from the National Capital Region (NCR) to destinations in UP emerged as a serious concern amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
Life on the road began improving for the migrant workers, who walked long distances on their way home for a few days, bit by bit. The picture changed a little on Thursday afternoon and then quite a lot on Saturday after a series of meetings in the corridors of power.
The improvement in their lot came about after the phenomenon of hapless workers walking long distances from the National Capital Region (NCR) to destinations in UP emerged as a serious concern amid the Covid-19 lockdown. As a result, over 1,000 buses were pressed into service on Saturday for transporting migrants from different parts of the border districts to their destinations.
Those who had walked long distances and reached the borders of the state in Noida and Ghaziabad scrambled for a seat or a place to stand in the aisle, or jostle to get a spot on the roof of the buses.
Food and water was given by police personnel at pickup spots and on the way.
Till Thursday, men, women, children walked hungry and thirsty as there was no transport and little cash or food.
However, after successive meetings in the state over the issue, steps began to be taken to end their plight.
For instance, the Bulandshahr district administration and police officials rushed to help the migrants when they were informed that over a thousand migrant workers were marching from Delhi to their homes in Bulandshahr and the neighbouring districts. The administration provided food, water, and then arranged buses to pack them off their respective districts.
“They had walked long distances from Delhi, Noida and were hungry and thirsty. We arranged food packets, water for them and then with the help of district administration sent them to their home districts,” said Bulandshahr superintendent of police (SP) Santosh Singh.
Similarly, distress eased at the Jhansi railway station where over 300 migrant workers were stranded. The district administration there made identical arrangements for them as in Bulandshar after thermal scanning all the workers.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath asked the district magistrates of bordering districts to make special arrangements for labourers/workers going/walking to their home states.
A state government spokesperson said: “After a Covid-19 review meeting on Friday night, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath again called officers for another meeting, this one to discuss how to tackle the migrant population transit. The chief secretary, director general of police, a principal secretary to the CM, and the additional chief secretary gathered at the CM’s official residence. Around 1am, the UPSRTC managing director was called. Minutes afterwards, the UPSRTC started calling up its drivers and conductors in different districts and Lucknow. “Within hours, 1,000 buses were parked at Noida, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Aligarh and Hapur. The district magistrates and police chiefs in all such districts where buses were sent were asked to make arrangements, including law and order, and food and water for the migrants.
“Till 11.30am on Saturday, we have despatched about 79 buses to various destinations like Lucknow, Etawah, Bareilly, Etah, Aligarh and Gorakhpur, besides nearby destinations. We will continue sending buses till all stranded workers are sent to their destinations. We have now resumed service from ISBT Kaushambi from where all these buses are getting despatched,” said AK Singh, regional manager of UPSRTC, Ghaziabad.
The buses were sent every two hours.
The movement of migrant workers started on March 24 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a countrywide lockdown.
(Readers may report migrant workers transit issues on the chief minister’s telephone helpline 1076 and/or tweet it on @CMHelpline1076 )