30th March 2020
The Prime Minister of India
Sub: Food and Shelter for the Migrant Workers during lockdown period
Dear Prime Minister Sir,
We have earlier, on 24th March 2020, brought to your notice the serious problems of the unorganised sector workers, including migrant workers as a result of the country wide lockdown to contain the corona virus pandemic. We have urged upon you to ensure special arrangement for food, shelter and health checkups for these workers on a war footing.
Lakhs of unorganised sector workers including migrant workers have lost their income during this lock down period. It was shocking to see lakhs of migrant workers walking for hundreds of kilometres with their families to reach their native places. Many of these workers – from Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh etc- employed in various sectors were thrown out of their jobs. Having lost their income they have been starving for the last few days. Many were thrown out of their rented accommodation by the house owners. Their survival under threat, they were compelled to throw precaution to the air and come out in lakhs, defeating the very purpose of the lock down and putting at risk their own health as well as the health of their fellow citizens. In many places the police have been resorting to measures like lathi charge and booking of cases against these hapless migrants, treating them as criminals. These workers who have been playing vital role in the economy are being treated without any sensitivity for their sufferings for no fault of theirs.
This shows that, even on the seventh day of the lockdown the directions/ advisories issued by your government have not been working on the ground. The Union Home Secretary’s DO no 40 -3/2020 – DM-I (A) dated 29th March 2020 to all Chief Secretaries of the states, as a follow up to the DO dated 24th March 2020 states that “MHA has issued another order today for strict implementation … to stop the movement of migrants and providing them with quarantine facilities, shelters, food etc and ensuring payment of wages and non eviction by their landlords… Its strict implementation need to be ensured.”
Hence we urge upon the government of India to
- Ensure, through statutorily enforceable measures and proactive enforcement and not by just advisories, that all workers including migrant workers are not removed from their employment and are paid their wages and that they are not vacated or forced to pay rent by the house owners,
• Ensure strict compliance in coordination with the state governments of the directions that migrant workers are provided shelter and food; nobody should go hungry
• Ensure health checkups and medical provisions at all the camps
• Expand testing facilities, strengthen health infrastructure by providing adequate isolation beds, quarantine wards, trained staff with proper protective gear
I request your personal and urgent intervention to ensure the above to prevent mass starvation and loss of lives in our country.