Because of this complete lockdown in the country announced on March 24, a large number of migrants labours found themselves stuck in different places across the country. More Than 1300 labours stuck in Gadchiroli District, which lies in the East of the Maharashtra State bordering both Chhattisgarh and Telangana. A majority of these migrants are from these two states. Also, some migrants are from neighbouring districts in Maharashtra like Chandrapur, Yavatmal and Gondia.
District Level Committee
The district administration has formed a district-level committee to help migrant labourers under the leadership of the District Collector Mr Deeapk Singla (IAS). District Information Officer Mr Sachin Adsul and Aspirational District Fellow (ADF) Mr Sudhakar G. are members of that committee. The main role of the committee is to coordinate all activities pertaining to migrant labourers. This involves engaging with different CSR partners, NGOs, local organizations and individuals to collect help in the form of grocery packets or funds and providing such necessary help to migrant workers. The District Collectors conducts a daily review of the committee’s work. The main focus of the committee is to reach and connect with every migrant labourer in the district, provide the necessary help. The bottom line is that no migrant workers should sleep hungry in the district.
District Control Room and Helpline Number
The Committee established a district-level control room and helpline on which migrant labours or other needy people can call for help on March 25. Desirous donors can also call on this helpline to provide help. The number has been published in the local newspaper and social media accounts of the district. The committee regularly collects the data of migrant workers from the control room and block level officers. The control room receives 5-8 calls daily for help. Some times these calls are for individual help and at times for help to a group of people.
The awareness about the helpline number for contributions and donations through the local newspaper and social media helps to connect with a large number of people. Also, the district administration regularly posts names and photos of the contributor on official social media accounts and in the local newspaper. The collector also shares these posts on their personal social media account. This appreciation from administration and collector helps to create awareness and motivates people to contribute to the cause. A large number of groups and individual came forward to help and support. This help is in the form of grocery kits or funds. As of now, we have distributed more than 1500 kits. We have sufficient kits even if the lockdown period is extended.
District level committee collects help in the form of grocery kits from individuals and organizations. Some people also provide funds to purchase the kits or for transportation of kits. This kit includes all the necessary items required to cook food. One kit has items for one person like 5kg Rice, 5kg Wheat Flour, 1 kg Tuwar dal, 1kg Edible oil, red chilli, turmeric powder, salt, onion, ginger and garlic paste. It also has bath soap and sanitizer. The Committee distributes it among migrant labours. In some cases, we connect donors with migrant labours. and the donor directly distributes the kits to the needy people. We only monitor the distribution and confirm the fact on the phone.
The migrant labours locations have been traced and 50 locations have been identified across 12 blocks of the district. The Tahsildar has been given authority to identify the buildings as required and make them as a shelter home. Building with basic facilities like drinking water and toilets has selected for shelters. These shelters are mostly schools building or other government offices in the block. One government official is appointed as an in-charge officer for each shelter. The largest camp in the district is in Chamorshi block. More than 250 people of DNT Community (Gorakh Community) stuck in the district are housed there.
The committee has identified block-wise local NGOs and individuals for better coordination. 21 local organizations and groups have been identified in 12 blocks. We prepared a list of such groups and make them available with local administration. Whenever we get information about needy people, we connect them with local organizations and make sure that help will reach within 24 hours. If a local organization is unable to help them, we mobilize helps from district level from individual donations. It is easy to providing help in urban areas like block places and district places. In remote areas or villages, where migrants’ workers are stuck, we distribute the kit through our government agencies. Also, a local group of volunteers has been identified for manual work for transportation and distribution of necessary help. Transportation of kits to the block level is done through donors’ vehicle or government vehicle
After connecting with local NGOs or individual, regular communication is established with a particular group of labours on phone. On the second day, help is ensured through a phone call. Also, the in-charge officer of the shelter provides feedback on the requirement and availability of grocery kits.
As of now, we provide kits to all the migrant workers. The distributed kits contain rations of 15-20 days. If the lockdown period is extended, we have to distribute the kits again for further lockdown period. Now we have data of migrant workers, their contact person, locations of their camps or shelter home. It will be easy to reach out to needy people because of available data. Also, we have adequate stock of grocery kits and a standby list of willing donor groups and individuals who can extend their help for further lockdown period.