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Coronavirus lockdown: Bengal to collect worker data

Nabanna has asked for databases of the workers across the country who are leaving for their home states

Snehamoy Chakraborty Bolpur(Birbhum) Published 29.03.20, 08:33 PM
A migrant labourer's family members make journey to their village by foot in New Delhi on Saturday.

A migrant labourer's family members make journey to their village by foot in New Delhi on Saturday. (AP)

The Bengal government has asked all district administrations to prepare databases of migrant labourers who are stuck in different states during the lockdown so that authorities can take remedial measures if the workers face problems in getting food and shelter.

Nabanna has asked for the databases at a time tens of thousands of migrant workers across the country are leaving for their home states in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.


“The database would help the government know how many people from Bengal are stuck in which states. Bengal can then communicate with the state governments concerned to ensure that these labourers get proper care,” said a Bengal government official.

“Besides, we don’t want them to start walking back home from other places,” added the official.

According to him, the grievance cell of chief minister will start the communication process once the database is ready.

“In most areas, labourers, who are stuck in other states, are in groups. So, if one of the group members is contacted, the entire group could be identified,” said an official.

Sources said thousands of migrants labourers from Bengal were stuck in different states like Kerala, Maharashtra, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh and some of them had started long marches to the home state because of scarcity of food.

The districts magistrates have already asked local block development officers to collate information on migrant labourers with details like name, proper address in the state — where they are presently staying — and their phone numbers. The local officials have been asked to take help from gram panchayat members.

“The data collection by BDOs would be completed by Sunday. If we get more information later on, the database would be updated,” Birbhum district magistrate Moumita Godara Basu said.

Vijay Bharti, the East Burdwan district magistrate, confirmed the database creation. The preparation of the database follows chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s letter to her counterparts in 18 states, requesting them to take care of the labourers from Bengal, who are stuck in their states because of the 21-day lockdown.

Officials said despite Mamata’s letter, hundreds of workers were contacting the state government — over phone or through social media — seeking help to return to Bengal citing crisis of food and shelter. Such is the desperation among migrant labourers, an official said, that 17 workers, who were stuck at Giridih in Jharkhand, walked 122km to reach Purulia’s Kotshila on Friday.

Sadekul Sheikh, a migrant labourer from Birbhum’s Muraroi, is stuck at a rented accommodation in Mumbai, along with a dozen others. Sheikh told this correspondent that they were not getting food as they were running out of cash.

“Many people are trying to leave the place on foot. We don’t know how we can survive here,” said Sadekul.

Sujan Sheikh, another migrant labourer from Murshidabad, and 18 others in the Kochi area of Kerala said they didn’t have cash to survive beyond three to four days.

Bangla Sanskriti Mancha, an apolitical organisation which works for migrant labourers, have also started a parallel survey with details of those migrant labourers who are stuck in other states.

“We are preparing a database of such migrant workers stuck in different states in seven districts including Murshidabad, Birbhum and Malda. We have already got 7000 names along with their locations and contact numbers. We have forwarded the list to the state government,” said Samirul Islam, president of Bangla Sanskriti Mancha.

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