Schools and Government Buildings set up as shelters for migrants in Thane and Navi Mumbai

Schools and Government Buildings set up as shelters for migrants in Thane and Navi Mumbai

The Maharashtra State Government passed a directive recently asking migrant workers to stay where they are and not flock back to their homes, assuring them that they will be taken care of. On this note, administrators of Navi Mumbai and Thane municipal corporations have ramped up efforts to provide shelter to migrant labourers who have been left in a spot of bother after the 21-day lockdown was imposed on March 24 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

This was a precautionary measure against the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, while Kerala and Maharashtra continue to be the most affected states in India. Some states have also locked their borders although they are seemingly open for essential supplies. 

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The BMC, on the other hand, is still lagging behind as far as setting up shelters are concerned. It is said that the authorities haven’t even earmarked schools for makeshift shelters. One of its proposed shelters will reportedly be built in Versova on a property belonging to the Home Guard. This shelter will reportedly be built in partnership with the NGO Harmony Foundation.

“We are starting with half an acre of space, which can accommodate 350 people and will expand if needed. We will put up a tent at the place. That will take about two days. We will keep a distance of 5 ft between beds. We are getting calls from labourers in Santacruz, SEEPZ, MIDC, Mira Road, Govandi, and Dharavi,” Chairman, Harmony Foundation, Abraham Mathai said.

Meanwhile, as of Sunday, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) had reportedly provided shelter to 1,350 migrants in 12 schools as well as night shelters and three government buildings across its jurisdiction. Government buildings used for the purpose include Gujarat Bhavan in Vashi and Samaj Mandir at Turbhe and Digha. 

Elaborating on the work done in the Kalyan-Dombivli region, Deputy Commissioner of the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC), Milind Dahar said - “As of now, eight schools have been earmarked across all wards, which can accommodate 150 people each. We are creating capacity for 1,000 people. Another building in Dombivli can accommodate 70 people. The corporation has its own night shelter, where 150 people have been housed. Space is not a problem. The government is providing them food.”

The Thane Municipal Corporation is said to have provided shelter to 250 migrant labourers at the Dadoji Kondadev Stadium. Although the number of labourers sheltered here isn’t too high, authorities have earmarked other locations within TMC’s periphery if the need arises. “We do not need additional facilities and schools as of now. If required, we will think of schools. We have made additional arrangements at the TMC’s Gaimukh School,” said Sandeep Malvi, who is the TMC’s Public Relations Officer.