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As Surat migrants protest, demand to resume MSMEs. Reason? 'Zero Covid-19 case'

Surat migrants' protest
Counterview Desk
Several civil rights and workers’ organizations have made a representation to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and chief secretary Anil Mukim on urgent need for exit strategy, especially for migrant workers of Surat, even as hundreds of them have been reportedly protesting, demanding safe passage to their homes.
Home to about 15 lakh migrant labourers, belonging to several states, most notably Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, the city has been witnessing the expressions of restive migrant labourers for some time now, and with the extension of lockdown, things have become particularly become precarious for them.
While the officials claim that they have been feeding around six lakh people per day, with NGOs helping them out by distributing food packets and community kitchens, and arrangements for their shelter have been made, migrants have little faith in the administration, say reports.

Text:

We as concerned individuals/ organisations/ NGOs associated with labourers, poor and marginalised, and civil rights groups engaged with providing relief to the needy, seek your attention towards the following suggestions as part of the exit strategy out of the present challenging situation.
The world is going through the dire times fighting against the deadly Covid-19 virus. The timely decision by the Central Government and the subsequent steps taken in conjunction with the states has ensured to arrest the spread of the deadly virus in our country. Taking stock of the situation and need of the hour the Central Government has announced extension of the lockdown till May 3.
The present health emergency has also resulted in Humanitarian distress. Our economy which was already ailing is also facing a blow from the present situation. We appreciate the efforts put in by the state government, administration, health workers, police department, sanitation workers and the civil society. The cumulative efforts have ensured that we address the issue at various fronts. The state of Gujarat has successfully been able to contain the spread of Covid-19 and ensure health and safety of the citizens.
As the government plans to prepare for the exit strategy from the current situation we would like to put some specific suggestions regarding the humanitarian issues involved with the Working and the marginalised class:
  • Surat district has about more than 15 lakh migrant workers from states like Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, UP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, etc. The areas with sizeable migrant population in Surat are safe from the spread of the deadly virus. We have successfully passed about 25 days without any reported cases in the area (14 days incubation period for the virus).
  • The workers are engaged in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). MSMEs form the economic backbone of the state of Gujarat. The Gujarat government should prioritise opening and functioning of this industries immediately with adequate precautions as prescribed by Health Department. Hence the large population associated with the textile, diamond and other industries can get engaged and employed. This will also help the entrepreneurs. 
  • The needy migrant workers be provided atleast 10 days of ration per person in one tranche immediately (rice, wheat, dal, oil, etc.). This will ensure that they have enough to feed themselves for next 10 days. 
  • A single point functional helpline or WhatsApp number be provided for people to register themselves for the Ration. Announcements regarding this be made in Hindi too. Anyone registering here be responded maximum within next two days with provisions. 
  • Labour unions, NGOs and civil society organisations can be engaged in ensuring smooth implementation and observation of registration and distribution of the provisions. 
  • The government can arrange for transportation after proper screening of people who wish to return to their natives, since there are almost zero cases in the migrant areas. We are yet unable to cover all the population under testing, this can be safely considered. Since the administration and security personnel are engaged in ensuring law and order situation, this will also ensure that their services can be utilised in other areas, at a time when the state is already stressed of human resources. 
We hope the state government will positively consider the above important suggestions. This can be replicated in other districts also.
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*Click HERE for signatories

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