Migrant workers refute claims of regular food supply

Coronavirus Lockdown: Frustrated migrant workers refute govt claims of regular food supply in Bengaluru

'We don’t get one square meal'

Migrant workers have rejected the government’s claim that it is feeding all of them along with the BPL cardholders during the lockdown. Some of them have alleged that they have not received any aid throughout the lockdown period.

Scores of construction labourers and other workers at Vasanthapura (Ward 197) said they were lucky to get one square meal a day. Shivamani (55), a construction labourer from Raichur, said she, her sister and son — all of whom are daily wage earners — received dry ration just twice in the past four weeks of the lockdown from private donors. “Somebody gave us one kg sugar, one kg soap and two kg of rice. But those supplies have run out and now we are dependent on daily packaged meals,” she said.

For latest updates and live news on coronavirus, click here

The BBMP is expected to distribute packaged meals once a day to the daily wage workers, besides 21-day dry ration packs to migrants, while the department of labour should be supplying packaged and cooked food to construction workers at least once a day.

BBMP joint commissioner Sarfaraz Khan, who has data on how many ration packets have been distributed so far, did not respond to queries.

Corona warriors

Cooked meals are supposed to be supplied by the corona warriors (CWs), a 2,500-strong city-wide group of volunteers started by the Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR). “Often, the food is never delivered,” explained a member of the corona warriors, speaking anonymously.

Another CW member in central Bengaluru, whose area has 299 surveyed
migrant workers, said the BBMP’s dry rations have never been supplied to the workers in his ward, forcing NGOs to step in.

Waiting for relief

Veerana, a 32-year-old construction labourer from Ballari who lives in an encampment of 20 labourers and three children, said the cooked food is sometimes of bad quality. “The police helped supply food at the start, but it tasted bad, and we started refusing it. We were told that we would get a dry ration pack so that we could prepare our own meals. But nothing has come,” he said.

Though the BBMP delivers milk, 30-year-old Renuka, a maid who lives in another camp, said deliveries are erratic. With no BPL card and money running low, Renuka said her family would like to inquire about matters in their native village, but are unable to do so because all the phone recharge shops are closed.