Maharashtra Govt moves to get stranded workers moving

Mumbai: Having already issued guidelines to send migrant labourers back to their home states, the Maharashtra government has appointed nodal officers in the respective district collectors' offices, to directly coordinate with the state.

The rules also stipulate that approval from the receiving state is necessary, in order to get the labourers moving.

However, the stranded labourers claim to have been contacted by their home state officials and told that the latter are in talks with the Maharashtra government but cannot say with certainty when the labourers can be moved. 

"A senior bureaucrat representing the West Bengal government got in touch with us and took our our personal information and Aadhar card numbers. He said he was in talks with the Maharashtra government but did not clearly say when we would get home," said Iqbal Shaikh, a stranded labourer from West Bengal, currently stuck in Govandi. 

Shaikh is just one of the more than two lakhs of stranded labourers stuck in various parts of the state. It will be an uphill task for the state to transfer such a large number of people through buses while scrupulously following social distancing norms. 

For the labourers too, it is an uphill task to complete the necessary formalities and paperwork that will enable them to go home. 

Activist Bilal Khan, who, along with several civic volunteers, has set up relief camps for labourers in various parts of the city, has informed he has been helping labourers with the paperwork. 

"Local district officials have issued circulars and labourers are finding it hard to complete the paperwork so we have assigned volunteers to help them out," said Khan.

"There are more than two lakh labourers from West Bengal alone, stuck here. In addition, there are lakhs of labourers from other states too. Buses will not suffice, the Centre needs to deploy trains for the purpose," added Khan. 

Another labourer, Aminul Haque said they had been asked to submit their details in the next 24 hours. "We were told to fill forms online and submit them in a day. But we are finding it difficult to access the system and in the meanwhile, time is running out." a panicked Haque says.

Meanwhile, on Friday afternoon, the Central government issued a circular saying the Indian Railways would be running special 'Shramik' trains to move migrant workers, pilgrims and tourists stranded in different states. 

An official from the state government said, "The Maharashtra government is talking to other state governments and soon, we will chart a course of action."

According to an official from the West Bengal government, "We are in the midst of talks with the Maharashtra government. The zonal railways are also involved in the talks and with the Centre's order on special trains, soon we will be able to get these people back home." 

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