Food over, helplines busy, they survive on potatoes

MCG set to take over water, sewerage in private colonies

Gurgaon: For the past two days, Balkrishna, a daily wager, has been frantically trying, in vain, to reach the government’s helplines. The reason — he and 44 other migrant workers, all from Bihar, are yet to receive any of the foodgrain promised by authorities. Their stock of wheat and rice has run out, and they are now surviving on potatoes.
“I called all the numbers. While some didn’t connect, others hung up after saying they had registered our complaint and that food would be sent soon,” Balkrishna said.
The workers, who live in Kasan Ki Dhani village near IMT Manesar, made at least 50 such phone calls, he said.
According to workers and volunteers, although the government has started relief work and the supply of food items has picked up in the last couple of days, the process is ‘highly mismanaged’ due to the lack of a designated agency. Several departments, they said, are working individually, without any coordination.
“The labour department is completely absent from the relief operations. The government needs to have a designated authority for the work so the process can be streamlined,” said Shyamvir, a labour activist who works in the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt.
On Monday, Workers Unity helped the daily wagers set up a community kitchen and arranged ration. “There was nothing left in their canisters. All they had left were a few potatoes,” said Sandeep Rauzi from the organisation.
Rauzi added that as the volunteers moved around in the areas surrounding Manesar, they saw several such clusters of workers who haven’t received any help yet. “We have been getting distress calls from Behrampur, Manesar and Naharpur,” he said.
The quantity of food, too, is an issue. “As soon as the food comes, it vanishes. Workers almost have to fight for their share,” said Khalid Khan, also from Workers Unity.
Meanwhile, several residents and NGOs in the city have offered to volunteer, but their movement is restricted. “I have been getting calls from all over Gurgaon. Last evening, we helped set up a community kitchen in Naharpur but I am yet to get my pass for moving around,” said Shyamvir.

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