Hundreds of migrant workers in New Delhi are waiting at a bus stop on Monday to go to their villages. AP
The government of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is arranging buses for migrant workers to return home from neighboring Delhi after the area announced a week-long lockdown on Monday due to the rise in Covid-19 cases.
“We are making arrangements to bring 70,000 to 100,000 people back to their villages,” Siddharth Nath Singh, a minister for the Uttar Pradesh government, told local news on Tuesday.
Singh added that the Delhi government left them helpless, evoking memories of similar incidents last year when thousands of migrant workers queued at Delhi’s bus terminals to return home after India’s first lockdown.
After the city announced its final lockdown, the Delhi Prime Minister appealed to migrant workers to stay.
“I am confident that this is a small lockdown and that we do not have to extend it to stay in Delhi … I want to assure you that the government will take care of you,” said Arvind Kejriwal on Monday.
Thousands of people are on their way to train stations and bus stops in cities such as Mumbai and Delhi, which are home to a large migrant population.
The central government has denied claims that migrant workers have been stranded at train and bus stations.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said Tuesday that there are no train stations in the country “where large numbers of migrant workers have traveled or are facing difficulties.”
Goyal said “special trains have been operating” and that “there are plenty of tickets for everyone to book and return home”.
The special trains have been in operation since June last year when the country began opening up interstate traffic after several block extensions.
When the nationwide lockdown was imposed last March, tens of thousands of migrants returned home in every possible way, despite limited interstate travel and no transportation available.
The Ministry of Labor and Employment has reactivated 20 control rooms that were set up last April to address the grievances of migrant workers, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.