Relief Campaign
Relief Work During Lockdown in Delhi

THE massive informalisation of labour force and the forced migration of the poor from rural areas to urban centres that has been going on since last few decades have resulted in horrific humanitarian crisis as is evident from the impoverished situation of working masses, especially migrant workers in India’s cities.

Delhi, the National Capital is one such city that is witnessing the destitution of workers in lockdown. Declaration of the lockdown meant snatching away of livelihood and wages for lakhs of migrant workers who run the economy of the city. Within three days of the declaration of the lockdown, thousands of migrant workers gathered at Anand Vihar Interstate Bus Terminus in desperate attempt to go back to where they came from, because the government no more cares about them.

In all of the working class areas of Delhi lockdown came with hunger. Although the Delhi Government has been claiming that it will ensure no one sleeps hungry in the state, the reality is quite in contrast.

Initially, the Delhi Government arranged for food only in few night shelters set up for lockdown. It took an unmanageable situation at the night shelters and pressure from Trade Unions and civil society that they started half-hearted attempts of serving food at some schools and public offices. Even this mechanism is extremely ineffective to address the magnitude of the problem as it is impossible for workers from slums to walk to distant places from their slums. In the name of enforcing lockdown the Police has been aggressively attacking and intimidating workers who are trying to go to get food.

AICCTU and CPIML comrades started getting distress calls from workers as soon as the lockdown was announced. In a coordinated manner, we are raising our demands with the Delhi Govt, local MLA and district level authorities. We are also collecting relief from supporters and distributing among workers.

We are submitting the details of stranded workers in the portal of Delhi Govt meant for providing food, ration and monetary relief. It is only after our concerted effort that distribution of food at the slum itself has started in some areas.

Most of migrant workers do not have Delhi’s ration card and thus were excluded from ration provided by Deli govt. It was only after making noise for several days that the Delhi govt provided a link for applying for temporary ration card. For most of the time the server of the link does not work. And it is nearly impossible for the workers to complete the complex procedure. We demanded that this requirement is done away with and door step delivery of ration is provided for workers without any criterion.

The Delhi Govt declared that Rs 5000 will be given to construction workers who have registration with the welfare board. This provision again is meaningless for the lakhs of migrant workers who do not have any registration with the board. We have submitted details of around 2500 workers to the Delhi Govt. We demand that all the workers are provided with monetary relief without exclusionary criterion of registration with the board.

AICCTU and CPIML have run relief drive by giving ration to workers in nearly twenty differenst localities. We have also sought help from civil society organizations in areas where we could not deliver ration.

The AICCTU has also been receiving calls from workers who are being retrenched by their employers amidst lockdown. The AICCTU has successfully stopped retrenchment in some instances and our struggle in others are continuing.

Liberation Archive