Shelters to come up in Pune district to offer relief to in-transit labourers

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The Pune district administration will set up around 40 shelters along the main roads to provide food and water to hundreds of migrant labourers stranded in the district or in inter-State transit in the wake of the lockdown.

Collector Naval Kishore Ram, who issued a directive in this regard on Saturday, said the administration had come up with this plan to provide succour to hundreds of migrants found walking along the national highways passing through the district.

“For the last few days, we have witnessed poignant scenes of labourers, whether from this district or from the State, walking to their destinations in blistering summer heat. So, I have directed tehsildars and block development officers of areas adjoining the State and national highways connecting Pune to Bengaluru, Mumbai, Nashik, Ahmednagar and Solapur to provide food and shelter to such labourers,” Mr. Ram said.

He said the administration is in the process of requisitioning wedding halls and other such properties that would take care of food, shelter and sanitation of such workers.

“The expenditure for these shelters and resources would be met using State Disaster Response Fund funds with assistance from local gram panchayats,” Mr. Ram said, adding each taluka has been allocated ₹10-20 lakh as an advance to provide relief.

Speaking to The Hindu, Ayush Prasad, chief executive officer, Pune zilla parishad, said the relief shelters would be set up at reasonable distances from each other along the main roads leading to Nashik, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad.

“Signboards at regular intervals of 10-12 km will be erected to direct the labourers to these shelters. At each of these places, which could be a rest house or a hall in that particular gram panchayat, the migrants will get water, toilets, a secure place to rest and sleep, food, basic medical care such as band-aids and ORS powder, and a check-up for flu-like symptoms,” Mr. Prasad said.

Since there were large numbers of labourers from other States, Mr. Prasad said they could also make use of these shelters to register themselves online with the help of an ‘Aaple Sarkar Seva Kendra’ operator who would be stationed at each shelter with a laptop.

“Thus, the labourers can access transport facilities being provided by the government. While we are in the process of setting up around 40 such shelters, their numbers and locations would be determined by the local tehsildars based on the requirements. The tehsildar would go by the ‘reality on the road’ to assess the numbers of in-transit workers in a particular area,” he said.

Mr. Prasad said there would be sufficient police and home guard deployment at each shelter for the safety of women and children who accompanied the migrant workers.

“An official would be appointed as a shelter manager while toilets would be cleaned. All physical distancing measures will be strictly adhered to, while each shelter will be stocked by sanitisers and necessary medical equipment,” he said.

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