Even as Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman announced a relief package for the poor in the country, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to her counterparts in 18 states on Thursday, asking them to take note of migrant workers from her state. Many workers have been stranded in different parts of the country after the 21 day lockdown was announced on Tuesday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We have received information that many such workers who are ordinary residents of Bengal are stuck in your state too. We are getting SOS calls from them. They are generally seen in groups of 5-100 and can be easily identified by the local administration. Since it is not possible for us to reach any help to them, I take the opportunity to request you to kindly ask your administration to provide them with basic shelter, food and medical support during this period of crises. We in Bengal are taking care of such stuck people in our State,” reads the letter.
Mamata has asked the West Bengal Chief Secretary to get in touch with their counterparts in other states and pass on the names of migrant workers from her state. The letters have been sent to the Chief Ministers of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan in the North and Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka in the South. The Western states include Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa and closer to home, in the east, she wrote to the heads of Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh.
As train and domestic flight services have been suspended in wake of the lockdown, many daily migrant wage earners are without work and have no place to stay.
India has so far has reported 649 cases with 13 deaths. West Bengal has seen 10 COVID-19 cases and 1 death. The 10th case which came to light on Thursday is that of a 66-year-old man from Nayabad who had no travel history overseas in recent times, but had travelled to Midnapore district to attend a wedding and might have come in contact with a person infected with the virus. The patient has been admitted to an isolation ward in a private hospital while his family has been kept in home isolation under Police protection.