Lockdown: SunCity becomes temporary hub of migrants

Coronavirus Lockdown: Maharashtra's SunCity becomes temporary hub of migrant workers

Credit: DH Photo/Mrityunjay Bose

Braving the scorching sun, extreme humidity and hunger, hundreds of migrant workers are camping along the SunCity Road in Vasai, hoping to get a train to go back home.

The SunCity Road is just two km away from the Vasai Road junction, from where the Western Railway is running Shramik Specials to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
The salt-pans and mud-flats along the SunCity Road in Vasai tehsil in Palghar district are crowded during the monsoon when bird lovers from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) converge to look at birds including flamingos.

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But now, the scene is totally different.

This DH correspondent visited the SunCity area of Vasai-West, on Tuesday and Wednesday when people narrated their woes.

From SunCity, the migrants are taken in buses to Vasai Road as per the train timings.

"We want to go to UP and we registered twice. We came here from Virar only to know that there are trains to West Bengal only on Wednesday," said Haridhani Singh, a carpenter, who had come from Virar.

From Saturday to Tuesday, trains have left for UP and Bihar, those who had gathered said.

A police officer at the SunCity police station said that people have to register themselves after which the local authorities will call them. But people from the MMR, including Mumbai, Palghar, Thane and even Raigad, are coming here.

In fact, Vasai Tehsildar's office, Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation, Vasai Police and Western Railway are all finding it difficult to manage things.

"I have submitted the forms several times and came here twice, only to be sent back twice," says Alimuddin Shaikh,  who stays in Nalasopara and works as a labourer.  

"Please send us home, we will survive," he says.

Some people tied chaddars and shawls to branches of trees along the roads to make tents.

On Tuesday, a 58-year-old woman, Vidotyma Shukla, died when she collapsed while waiting for her ticket. On Tuesday, more than 7,000 to 8,000 people and on Wednesday, around 3,000 to 4,000 people had gathered here.

Reaching here from far-flung areas during lockdown is not an easy task. "We took an auto from Mira Road and the driver charged us Rs 1,000," said Satish Kumar, who wants to go to Jharkhand.

The Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA), the local political outfit, has been organising food for the migrants.

"There should be some mechanism for advance announcements. People are coming here with hopes, children are wailing, women are hungry... we are tired," said Mujib, a WB native in a choking voice. 

"There is hardly any place to relieve ourselves," he added.

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