Coronavirus update: UP ramps up evacuation of workers from Delhi-NCR | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Coronavirus update: UP ramps up evacuation of workers from Delhi-NCR

Hindustan Times, Ghaziabad/Noida | ByPeeyush Khandelwal & Sanjeev K Jha, Ghaziabad/noida
Mar 29, 2020 06:44 AM IST

The UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) authorities have been ferrying migrants to their destinations from Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar districts, which share borders with Delhi.

The Delhi-Uttar Pradesh (UP) border saw an uptick in reverse migration to the country’s most populous state on Saturday morning, as hundreds of workers continued their march home after their livelihood options dried up and savings were exhausted amid the 21-day nationwide lockdown that started Wednesday to tackle the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak.

People distribute food to migrant workers in UP’s Ghaziabad as they head to their native state on a bus during day 4 of the 21-day nationwide lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus.(Sakib Ali/HT Photo)
People distribute food to migrant workers in UP’s Ghaziabad as they head to their native state on a bus during day 4 of the 21-day nationwide lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus.(Sakib Ali/HT Photo)

The UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) authorities have been ferrying migrants to their destinations from Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar districts, which share borders with Delhi.

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“This situation arose after the word was circulated among our people (migrant workers) in Delhi that buses were being operated for them to take them to their home. Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) even dropped them at the Delhi-UP border, despite the lockdown, leaving them all in the lurch. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath held an emergency meeting and decided that the government could not leave its people like this. The transport department was asked to ferry them home,” UP minister of state for transport (Independent) Ashok Katariya said.

“We are operating 1,000 buses to pick passengers from different cities and drop them at their destinations. Till 4pm today, we have already transported 22,000 such passengers. The buses operated all night. We are providing them with food and water also at bus stations. We are in a lockdown and are not supposed to operate buses. But this is an emergency situation. On humanitarian grounds, we are providing conveyance to people who have moved to UP from Delhi and other states. We think we may have to operate buses till tomorrow (Sunday) and then we pack up,” he added.

The Uttar Pradesh government arranged 1,000 buses to ferry the workers. Ghaziabad subdivisional magistrate, Devendra Pal, on Saturday night, said that an estimated 400-500 buses had started from Kaushambi, but the figure for Lal Kuan was not readily available.

Officials of the UPSRTC’s Ghaziabad region said that till Friday midnight, 96 buses had started their trips and they are arranging more. “We have sent 79 buses on Saturday, till 11.30am, to Lucknow, Etawah, Bareilly, Etah, Aligarh and Gorakhpur, besides nearby places. We will continue sending buses till all the stranded workers reach home. Bus services have resumed from the interstate bus terminus (ISBT) in Kaushambi,” said AK Singh, regional manager of UPSRTC.

“We sent 96 buses from Lal Kuan intersection till Friday night and more buses are being arranged from other depots. We had arranged for 200 buses on Friday, but the police stopped some of them because of orders that people should stay put at their respective places due to the lockdown. However, we received orders to resume services late Friday,” he said.

Migrant workers started moving to their home towns on Tuesday, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a nationwide lockdown.

“Around 40,000-50,000 workers were lined up on Delhi-UP border on Saturday evening. They are still coming in large numbers. The social distancing is openly being flouted as the workers are in a hurry to catch the first bus to their home towns,” said VK Mittal, the president of Kaushambi apartments’ RWA, an apex body of Kaushambi Township.

Migrant workers such as Mohammad Fakhruddin, who came to Lal Kuan in Ghaziabad from Tank Road in central Delhi’s Karol Bagh, said that he was waiting for his bus to arrive. “I have to go to Badaun, my home town. Another 10 people will be travelling with me. I work for a garment manufacturing unit, which makes denim jeans. However, our work has stopped due to the lockdown. The landlord is asking for rent and I have no money to pay. My family and I have decided to move back to our home town until the crisis blows over. We came to Lal Kuan by a UP Roadways bus. From ISBT Kaushambi, we will board another bus to Badaun,” he said.

Ghaziabad district magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey denied that the migrants were stopped at the border. “Nobody has been stopped at the Delhi-UP borders,” he said.

Those who had come to catch the buses from Lal Kuan even complained that some private vehicle owners were charging high fares. “A few private vehicles are also available, but they told me that I have to shell out 1,000 for a drop to my home town. Many are engaging mini trucks, commercial trucks, milk vans and other commercial vehicles, risking their safety. Trains are also not available. As a result, people have no option to wait for the UP government buses and pay a normal fare,” said Atul Kumar, a call centre employee travelling to Etawah.

The police also extended a helping hand to the workers. “It’s a massive crisis for these poor people. They started coming in groups of 25 to 30 and were walking towards Hapur, Moradabad, etc. We have helped many of them board empty trucks and other commercial vehicles, as they could be dropped off near their home towns,” a police officer said.

Good Samaritans are distributing cooked food to them near Masuri on NH-9. “The workers have started coming again. We are preparing about 300 boxes of food for them. We helped about 300 workers board their respective buses from Friday evening,” Maurya said.

In Gautam Budh Nagar, the UPSRTC has provided about 200 buses to help stranded migrant workers reach home. “These buses are leaving every two hours, starting at 8am on Saturday. We will run the service for the next 48 hours,” said Sankalp Sharma, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Noida.

He said all district and administrative authorities have been instructed to allow these buses to travel on a priority basis. “We have also requested that the passengers be provided with food and medical facilities The buses will drop the passengers at different interstate borders in UP. The passengers can avail of the transportation facilities being provided by the state governments of their respective states,” he said.

The DCP said that all DMs have been requested to record the details of the buses reaching their respective districts on Saturday and Sunday. “The DMs have been asked to make arrangements for medical screening of all the passengers at their destination points, maintaining their full details, including names, addresses and mobile phone numbers. It will help us in monitoring and supervising these passengers at a later stage,” Sharma said.

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