Who’s Responsible for Delhi’s Migrant Labor Exodus?

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(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)

Whoever is responsible for the ongoing Delhi’s migrant labor exodus must be identified and punished for breaking the “Lockdown” appeal of the Prime Minister Modi.

Paradoxical, Congress leader Rahul Ghandy (Pappu the Great) lashed out at the Centre, instead of the Delhi State government, sharing a video showing migrant workers “struggling to find their way back home”. Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter and said the Government of India did not chalk out “contingency plans” for this “exodus”.

No need for Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi, to shed crocodile tears after he or his followers have allowed the Delhi migrant exodus to take place. Why did he first allow the migrant worker’s exodus?

Since the Delhi Transport Corporation is the sole responsibility of the Delhi State government, Arvind Kejriwal must not only suspend the Chairman, but dismiss him for allowing the buses move out of their depots and ferry migrant labor.

If Arvind Kejriwal firmly believes that his orders for “lock down” have been flouted by his Transport Minister, Satyendar Kumar Jain (Health, Industries, Home, Public Work Department, Power, Urban Development, Transport), Kejriwal  must without batting an eye-lid sack him from the cabinet post and expel him from the Party.

Also, Arvind Kejriwal must institute an enquiry into the reasons that lay behind migrant labors exodus.

Arvind Kejriwal has been appearing on daily basis boasting about how he has ordered all his MLAs to go around the streets and Mohallas to implement a range of welfare measures and to ensure “Social Distancing”.  Migrant’s exodus exposes his hypocrisy and rank political opportunism to fool people or gullible voters.

Let me briefly recount the slew of measures to counter the rapid spread of novel Coronavirus since 21 March 2020. He announced a complete lockdown from till midnight of March 31 what with curfew imposed.

No public transport services including private buses, autos, e-rickshaws will be allowed during the lockdown period in Delhi. 25 per cent of the DTC bus fleet will continue to ply on roads of Delhi to carry people involved in essential services. All shops, factories, offices, commercial establishment shall close their operations. All religious places to be closed.

The motorable and unmotorable borders of NCT of Delhi with the neighboring state of Haryana and UP will be sealed. Movement of interstate buses/trains/DMRC shall be suspended.

All domestic/international flights shall be suspended.

However, following services excluded and to continue to function normally to include police and people who come out to provide essential services.

Most important, free ration with 50% extra quantity to 72 lakhs people besides free food to homeless people in all night shelters. Water meter reading activity stopped. Also, double pensions for widows, senior citizens and differently abled for the month April.

Kejriwal also claimed that AAP is extremely concerned about daily wagers, laborers amid Coronavirus crisis and his party would not let anyone to sleep on an empty stomach. What happened to relief camps?

In reality, the scenes of thousands of daily wage workers and other migrant laborers thronged the Delhi-state borders with neighboring UP, Haryana and even Punjab that reached Anand Vihar Inter State Bus terminus, Ghazipur, Badrapur and Ghaziabad’s Lal Kuan area after trekking on foot to take buses to their respective native places clearly exposes the fraud of Arvind Kejriwal and his party claims.

Following the exodus, the UP government has arranged buses to ferry migrant laborers stranded in border districts after an emergency meeting held on hearing and sees migrant workers walking on the roads of Delhi to Delhi borders.

Also, the Central government on Saturday night once again urged state governments to take immediate steps to set up temporary accommodation for stranded migrants across the country.

As per the latest information, even the Delhi government also announced that 100 buses have been deployed to help those trying to reach on foot their homes in other states, many of them hundreds of kilometres away.

As per doctors at leading hospitals have expressed fear that India ran the risk of seeing the viral transmission in stage three of infection if the lockdown and quarantine norms were not diligently complied with.

However, what Arvind Kejriwal and his followers have failed to realize is that the migrant workers exodus facilitated by the Delhi Transport Corporation is bound to hurt Delhi’s civic services and also the economy on the rebound.

After all, those migrant workers who have gone back to their native places cannot be expected to rush back to Delhi immediately after the “Lockdown” is lifted considering the Delhi State governments handling of the crisis situation.

Ironical it will be to later find Delhi State Government, besides the Congress Party in tow, blaming the Central government for migrant workers exodus fallout later.

Politicization has already broken out in TV media channels. And, their crescendo will pick up in days to follow. Blame games are bound to follow.

Time to recognize by all alike that under the List II, Seventh Schedule – Article 246 of the Constitution, “Public Health and sanitation, hospitals and dispensaries” fall under the State Governments.

If hospitals and dispensaries are not adequately equipped with ventilators in ICUs and special wards, then the State governments are squarely responsible for their dismal failure. Even for shortages in medical personnel to include specialists, doctors, nursing staff and others.

In today’s war-like emergency situation, State governments must set-up temporary “Hospital Bays” at District Headquarters and even Mandal levels to accommodate as many number of COVID-19 positive cases. Of course, it goes without saying that adequate number of “testing kits” is an imperative at all levels.

For example, South Korea has emerged as a sign of hope and a model to emulate. The country of 50 million appears to have greatly slowed its epidemic. And it has done so without locking down entire cities or taking some of the other authoritarian measures that helped China bring its epidemic under control.

Behind its success so far has been the most expansive and well-organized testing program in the world, combined with extensive efforts to isolate infected people and trace and quarantine their contacts. South Korea has tested more than 270,000 people, which amounts to more than 5200 tests per million inhabitants—more than any other country except tiny Bahrain, according to the Worldometer website. The United States has so far carried out 74 tests per 1 million inhabitants, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.

Ironic but true, India does not have the “test kits” and trained manpower to replicate South Korean example.

Thus, India is left with no alternative but to opt for “Lockdown and social distancing” as initiatives to keep the numbers of infected people as low as possible.

And, the responsibility lies more at the State Governments and local administration levels with assistance from the Central government.  Close collaboration and cooperation between all levels of governance is vital to win the war against “COVID-19” ASP.

In sum, the fiasco of migrant worker’s exodus is man-made.  Also, the failure to collaborate and cooperate at various levels. Be that as it may, the culprits must be identified and dismissed from political and government service.

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