BENGALURU: Karnataka’s department of information and public relations (DIPR) has raised an army of volunteers from civil society to provide logistics, relief material for migrant workers and help the police raise awareness on COVID-19, including identifying fake news on social media. There are DIPR volunteers for migrant workers from many states, who have lost their livelihood, following the lockdown, and are desperate for food, shelter and home, said an official source.
“Health and hygiene are also issues surrounding temporary camps, where many of them have been housed. The response from the government is immediate and proactive. Each colony of migrant workers has a representative, who can call the hunger helpline -- 152214 – and ask for food packets,” he added. “Many migrant workers are also calling up home and speaking to family members about their needs. They, in turn, are conveying it to their local politicians or MLAs, who are calling up their counterparts in Karnataka.
Such calls are being routed to another set of volunteers, who ensure that food items are distributed to the callers after their identification. The entire system is working seamlessly, though it’s just been put in place,” said Dr Bhaskar Rajkumar, DIPR volunteer and coordinator for inter- state labour relief work. Meanwhile, the state government has identified 200 wedding halls in Bengaluru to lodge migrant workers. “Some will be used for cooking meals and other logistics, while most of them will be used to lodge migrant workers. Many owners have volunteered to give the halls gratis to the government,” he added. DIPR volunteers have been issued passes and given personal protection kits comprising masks, sanitiser and gloves. There are also private citizens, professionals and voluntary organisations who have come forward to help labourers from other states. The Concerned for Working Children (CWC) is looking into issues of children of migrant labourers.
“Women, children and adolescent girls are the worst affected. Besides food, there are concerns of their health, hygiene and physical safety,” said Kavita Ratna of the CWC. “In Krishnappa Garden, one of our locations, there is a pregnant woman. There is no Public Health Centre close by. We have identified the nearest PHC and requested the area councillor to facilitate her delivery,” said Kavita. Well-known spine surgeon Dr Thomas Kishen of Manipal Hospital, on “behalf of the Lodge of Light – a Freemasons Lodge”, launched his free food distribution drive from April 1, when he turned his car into a container of 400 cooked food packets for migrant workers and their children, camped in a government school off Hennur Road. “We will continue distribution of food till the lockdown ends,” said Dr Kishen.