Raising their voice for the migrant labourers stranded in different parts of Maharashtra, a group of social activists and relief workers has drafted an open letter condemning the centre's move of charging them for their ticket fares. As many of those desiring to go back have been unemployed for the past three months, they have asked both the state and the central government to take care of their allowances as well.
As many as ten social activists groups have come together for the cause. All the groups in some way or the other are engaged with the relief works of migrants. Many of them have set up camps and community kitchens in different parts of the city for stranded labourers and the poor. "Several organisations have come together to stand beside the labourers. We have drafted the letter. Once the signing is complete, we will send the letter to the state government and central government," said activist Bilal Khan, who has been spearheading a camp for migrant workers eversince the lockdown has been imposed.
In the letter, the activists have also demanded free medical check up for labourers alongside the waving off of travel expenses. "We have formed camps and community kitchens for labourers and are providing them with all basic necessities. Now, amidst the CoVID-19 outbreak, if the common people are doing their part, then the state should also behave responsibly," adder Khan.
Civic-run medical camps witnessed queues of migrant labourers seeking fitness certificates eversince the Uddhav Thackeray-led state government announced that they could now go back to their hometowns. However, as these camps are crowded, many of them have had to resort to private clinics where they were charged heavily. "The government is charging the labourers even for medical tests. It is the government's responsibility to transfer them home. The labourers have no resources and are miserable. The government needs to stand by them in this situation," said social activist Lara Jesani.
Many labourers have approached the group saying that they are facing problems filling out forms and the police are also not being cooperative. “Thus, we urge the government to be slightly more flexible," added Jesani.
Meanwhile, BJP MP, Subramanian Swamy in a tweet on Monday stated, the centre has subsidised the railway fares. The centre will pay 85 per cent of the ticket fare, while the state government has been told to pay 15 per cent. This announcement came hours after Congress chief Sonia Gandhi stated that her party will bear the railway fares of the migrant workers.