Lieutenant governor Anil Baijal appealed to the migrant workers on Tuesday not to leave the city and assured them that the state government would provide all assistance. CM Arvind Kejriwal has already made a similar appeal.
The government’s decision to provide food and shelter to the migrants who have opted to stay back is a move in the right direction. In a crisis like this, governments must be proactive in helping those most vulnerable not just to the disease, but to its indirect fallout.
“We propose to give Rs 5,000 to the registered construction workers as Covid relief due to lockdown with effect from April 20. The registration and renewal are being kept open and newly registered workers will also be covered,” announced Delhi Disaster Management Authority.
Currently, Delhi has 1.71 lakh registered construction workers. In the last one year, the government conducted special camps to register the workers. Last year, the state twice provided an ex-gratia relief of Rs 5,000 to the 55,000 registered construction workers during the lockdown.
The health department has been asked to link all major construction sites with dispensaries to provide medical care, while the area district authorities will deploy adequate manpower at the construction sites for the arrangement of food packets/ration provision. A 24×7 functional helpline number will also be set up for grievance management and all distress calls will be promptly attended to.
The seven-member committee comprising senior Delhi government officials has been tasked to ensure the welfare of daily wagers, migrant workers, labourers and construction workers in compliance with the Delhi High Court directions, the DDMA order stated. The committee is headed by the principal secretary (home) and includes principal secretary (labour), director education, special secretary (finance), among others.
“The committee will ensure that all basic amenities such as food and water, shelter, clothing and medication and other necessities are made available to daily wagers and migrant labourers during the Covid-19 pandemic,” the DDMA order states. It adds that the committee will ensure all such necessities are provided to the construction workers at the work site itself. The services of contractors providing mid-day meals to school children in government and municipal schools will be utilised to provide meals under this relief exercise.
The finance department has been asked to arrange adequate funds, if required, in addition to the funds available with the Delhi Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board for ensuring overall welfare.
There are apprehensions that the crowding at the railway stations and bus terminals could aggravate the already high positivity rate of Covid infection. To facilitate travel for migrant workers, DDMA has appointed two nodal officers, Bhupinder Singh Bhalla, principal secretary (home), and Rajesh Khurana, special commissioner of police. They will be nodal officers to ensure smooth movement as well as welfare of the migrant labour force. All district magistrates have also been instructed to take necessary measures to ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour.