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Migrants on Roads as Bengaluru Shelters Lie Empty, Claim Activists

Activists said that several wedding halls or kalayana mantapas were locked up, despite being designated as shelters

Updated
COVID-19
2 min read
Activists said that several wedding halls or kalayana mantapas were locked up, despite being designated as shelters
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Activists in Bengaluru are claiming that despite the government setting up shelter homes for stranded migrant workers, those facilities lie vacant as workers are forced to take shelter on the road.

Large numbers of workers gathered at Palace Grounds and other locations in the city, believing that is where they can get a ticket back home.

Migrants were earlier being taken to Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) in western Bengaluru where they could wait before boarding their trains, however, the temporary shelter was closed on Tuesday, 19 May, after the influx became unmanageable.

Since then, the activists said, groups of migrant workers are camping out on the streets, even though the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had announced the conversion of marriage halls into shelter homes.

“The local labour inspector and the facility in-charge are blaming each other. One said the owner doesn’t want to accept migrants, while the other said the government can house whoever they want after leasing it. Why can’t they be opened for use,” asked Lekha Adavi, an advocate.

  • Marriage hall in High Grounds
  • Marriage hall in Banaswadi
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Responding to the tweet, the labour department said that one of the halls was enlisted for use of migrants but not for accommodation, only for storage of ‘food, essentials’.

Activists also said that the migrants were now gathering at bigger BBMP shelters like the Manpho convention centre and the Tennis Pavilion at Palace Grounds, where the BBMP was providing food, shelter, electricity etc.

“There are facilities at such places but the police is not present. There is no coordination with the two departments and people are lining up to try to register,” she said.

Sarfaraz Khan, joint commissioner for health, BBMP said that there were around 700 people totally at the two major government shelters in the city at Manpho and Palace Grounds, and said that they were in the process of setting up another shelter.

“There is nobody to send to the kalyana mantapas. As and when we are seeing people walking, we are picking them up and sending them to shelter hostels. We cannot put people in shelter against their will. There is total coordination between police and other departments. As and when we get calls about stranded people, we move them to a safe place,” he said.

He added that 5-6 marriage halls had been reserved in each zone while over 100 hostels had been converted to shelters.

Many Migrants Homeless After Being Evicted

Taking to Twitter, several activists and labour unions shared instances of migrant workers homeless after being evicted from their lodgings.

“We have come across several cases where people have been thrown out of their rooms as they were not working and wanted to go home. In such a case, they are landing up with their bags on the roads, waiting for a ticket,” she said.

Several migrant workers The Quint spoke to, also expressed fears over being at the mercy of their contractors and employers.

“Our employer has told us that if we leave with our luggage, we cannot return. Every day, we have to decide whether to take our things or not. There is a lot of uncertainty,”
Migrant worker from Jharkhand

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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