Homeless migrants in Bengaluru struggle to sustain themselves in the extended lockdown, despite the establishment of various sheds and camps in many wards across the city.
By Yamini Chincholi
Bengaluru: Social workers and volunteers are running out of food and supplies and migrants are left homeless and hungry to fend for themselves. At least 200 migrant laborers are homeless despite promises of housing them in one of the thousands of migrant sheds in the city, according to the volunteers at the gubbalala migrants camp.
Social activists and volunteers collected food, clothes, and groceries for them and also made housing arrangements temporarily in Shravanthi Kalyana Mantapa near Gubbalala. But not a single migrant worker has been shifted yet, said Prema Jankinath, a social worker in Gubbalala.
There are around 430 sheds for migrant workers in Kengeri ward, Satyanarayana VV, chairperson of the ward said. But as many as 50 families have been left to fend for themselves. “We were notified of 200 workers from Rajasthan having nowhere to go as trains stopped functioning as soon as the lockdown was announced. We could only arrange 10 food packets for them. We approached Indira Canteen to make further food arrangements but in vain,” Prema Jankinath added.
Kamalamma, a worker from Yadgir, Gulbarga, lives in the bus parking area in Doddakallasandra. “Around five families are living here. Food supply is inconsistent. We haven’t received food for the last three days. If we get food in the mornings, we don’t get any in the evenings. It is difficult to manage with two kids,” she said
Mr. Raghavendra B.S., a volunteer and social worker in Doddakalsandra and Konankunte said, “The migrants are from Rajasthan and are currently living in huts in Bagegowda layout. We try to get food supplied from volunteer services like Adamya Chethana, but we are falling short on supplies for new families we discover.”
“We have identified 40 very poor families among the migrant workers and provide them with kits. One kit contains five kg of rice, two kg dal, two kg of flour, one kg sugar and one packet each of salt, oil and tea powder. The first time we provided food to these migrants was eight days ago. We have recognized 10 new migrant families since then and they are falling seriously short on food supplies.”
Sumathi lives in a camp of fifteen in Navratan Gardens in Gubbalala gate, away from her kids who are in Tamil Nadu. “Everyone except me is from Rajasthan. There are many sheds around here. We are getting by, but running out of supplies gradually. We try to fend for ourselves on the days food runs short,” she said.
Dr. Joshua M E Rajan, a human rights activist in Sarjapur has been distributing food in Sarjapur and Lingarajapura. “We are going to run out of food supplies today evening. My team and I distribute food to around 250-odd migrants here. NGOs used to send food for the first 19 days through Swiggy but they have completely stopped from today after the extension of the lockdown”
Many private entities are coming forward to supply ration and medicines to migrants scattered around the city. Swiggy and Dunzo are collaborating with NGOs to deliver supplies to sheds and camps across the city. Art of Living was also seen distributing food on April 14 evening.
A Ray of Hope
BBMP COVID-19 taskforce has made a new door-to-door service facility called ‘Kaleyra’ where groceries and medicines are delivered at the doorstep within 30 minutes of request twice a week in South Bangalore.
The Kaleyra initiative began on April 4 by a group of corporate professionals and was active only in Kathriguppe. Manjunath S works at 24/7, a corporate company. He volunteers for Kaleyra. “We are using Dunzo to deliver supplies. We have delivered nearly 2000 orders till now. A meeting with BBMP officials today evening will determine how the taskforce will extend delivery in all parts of Bangalore soon,” he said.
The Kaleyra service takes phone-based requests and two orders from each phone will be allowed per week. It is not a person or family/house-based ordering system. Therefore it allows an average family of four to order eight times a week. Their only condition is that the bill should not exceed Rs 1000 per order because Dunzo deliveries are done on bikes and it is not possible to carry huge deliveries, Mr. Manjunath added.
“Economically weaker sections of people cannot pay for these supplies which makes the initiative a partial success. The government needs to take measures immediately on establishing a steady chain of food supply for homeless migrants and not rely on NGOs, social workers, and volunteers,” Dr. Joshua said.
Changes in Government Behaviour in Lockdown 2.0
The government is keeping its promises of tighter supervision in rural areas and a better supply chain of ration and medicines.
Manji Doddarahalli said, “There are police at every village exit in Bangarpet. Earlier four villagers from each village went to one main village to collect ration but now they are being supplied to our villages directly. Ration is being provided for two months in advance. They are getting an additional two kilograms of wheat. I am happy that all the announcements made by the prime minister are reaching every small village and police is supervising the lockdown vigilantly.”
Rama, from Srinagar, Bangalore said, “All BPL (Below Poverty Line) cardholders are being given two months’ ration in advance and there is strict patrolling by policemen here.”
Around 38 wards in Bangalore were identified as coronavirus hotspots.
Picture credits: Pradnya Desai
Knightlab Storymap by Shalu Chowrasia