BENGALURU: Even as the government and NGOs are working full-time to ensure that food and rations reach scores of hungry labourers -- mostly migrants -- several are left out of the net, owing to the lack of a combined database. Robbed of their livelihood amidst the lockdown, labourers from West Bengal, UP, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, and North Karnataka are forced to beg for food from the state and non-profit organisations.
Rajendran Prabhakar, founder and executive director of the NGO, Maarga -- which is engaged in providing food kits to migrants -- said, “The government has washed its hands off the responsibility to feed these workers, and politicians are not concerned as these migrants are not their voter base. Migrants are not aware of the hunger helplines, can’t speak Hindi or Kannada, and even if they do dial in, the line is busy. Lack of a database is affecting relief work from the government.” “Ward committees are supposed to form disaster management cells and facilitate distribution of food and rations during such emergencies,” Prabhakar said, adding that their NGO has sourced a database of 30,000 migrants from Odisha living in Bengaluru, provided by another NGO Wassan located in Odisha and Telangana.
According to All India Central Council of Trade Unions member Maitreyi Krishnan, a database is not an impossible task, but requires collating and coordination between departments. Whenever any construction activity is about to begin, the company must hand over a list of workers to the local police station.
“CREDAI has data available from its members. The construction workers welfare board has a portion of workers, who are registered in the state.
Data can be sourced from real estate companies that pay 1 per cent cess to the government. Several NGOs have submitted requests to the government of various migrant settlements in the city,” Maitreyi said.
On April 18, an Urban Development Department circular directed that a survey of labourers be carried out by the revenue department, with gram panchayats and urban local bodies -- also stating that the migrant workers, homeless and destitute who need shelter and food, as well as those in vulnerable and poor households needing dry rations or cooked food, must be surveyed.
Another circular from the UDD on April 11 directed the BBMP to carry out a zone-wise survey of migrants and homeless people, and ensure that they are provided food, shelter and other essentials.
Currently, the labour department is coordinating with BBMP, DCs, DIPR, police and NGOs to undertake relief work. “Around 60,000 dry ration kits through BBMP and 40,000 through DCs have been distributed, while one lakh cooked food meals are given daily. There are trade union representatives and volunteers at the ward level. We are working on a database. If you find any migrant labourer who needs help, call us on 155214 or telegram to 9333333684,” Labour Department Secreatary Captain P Manivannan said.