The Coronavirus created an upheaval in the lives of people from all the sections of the society, but, the most affected are the poor migrant laborers who are stuck in the cities in penury. The Legal Aid and Awareness Committee [“LAAC”] has pitched into the humanitarian crisis by making relief efforts for these stranded migrant workers in these times of crisis. The Committee has been working to ease the pain and suffering of thousands of migrant laborers who wanted to reach their native places but had insufficient economic resources and other provisions like adequate food, shelter and healthcare.

Contacting the Migrant Workers

The PRAYAS Centre for Labour Action and Research provided LAAC with a database comprising contact details of around 19,000 migrant workers who were either in need of food supplies or stuck in Surat without transportation facilities to Jharkhand. However, by the time LAAC realised that many migrant workers had already reached their homes by their own means but were still facing food shortages. Our main goal was to reduce the hardships faced by these workers by ensuring travel and/ or ration to the workers. During the calls, the volunteers would also enquire for any other worker around them who had not registered in any such database and wanted to get registered. LAAC also enquired if someone was in any urgent need of food or medical supplies. Such cases, besides being recorded in our data sheet, were also compiled separately, so that urgent action could be taken by contacting the onground volunteers, police and government authorities. The calls were conducted in a span of 5-7 days and action on the urgent cases was taken side by side during the same time duration.

Facilitating transportation of migrant workers from Gujarat to Jharkhand

We also facilitated the transportation of over 1600 migrant workers to Jharkhand who were either stranded in Surat or Ahmedabad. The committee was successful in also collecting the Aadhaar Card details and other credentials of all the labourers who wished to take a Shramik train back home. After completion of this process,an application was submitted to the concerned administrative authorities requesting them to arrange an urgent Shramik train to Jharkhand. The application was finally sanctioned on June 9, 2020. Before the journey, the ground level volunteers and members of CLRA ensured that the passengers are properly screened before boarding the train and also possess meals, biscuits, bread and water during the journey. Additionally, with the coordinated efforts of the students from GNLU and IIM-A, 29 migrant workers from Ahmedabad also made it to their homes in Orissa through buses.

Food Distribution Campaign

We were able to successfully facilitate distribution of ration to many families who were in urgent need of food. The families who were helped belonged to the states of Jharkhand, Gujarat, Bihar and Delhi. Since the area of focus for LAAC was Surat and various districts of Jharkhand, majority of the help was provided in these two regions. To effectively implement the initiative, LAAC collaborated with multiple civil society organisations and individuals who were working on ground in these areas. With the support of volunteers from different colleges, LAAC had compiled a list of families who were in urgent need of food supplies. Accordingly, these lists were then forwarded to the concerned authorities and nongovernmental organisations working at the ground level in these regions. LAAC also raised SOS in many cases with the help of Twitter and tagged the Local Police and District Collector for help. The tagged officials directed the local police to verify the claims and take the requisite action.

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