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The Chanakya National Law University, Patna (CNLU) and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow (RMNLU) are the latest additions to the list of NLUs providing a helping hand to stranded migrants and poor workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The students and alumni of CNLU along with Child Rights Centre, CNLU have set up 'Shramik Saarthi', a dedicated COVID-19 response resource center to help migrant labourers and others tackle financial hardships and facilitate their rescue, relief and rehabilitation.
The alumni-student run project has undertaken various steps such as transportation of stranded workers, providing them with ration kits etc. Some of their initiatives include the following.
'Shramik Saarthi' had tied up with ‘India Against Corona’, an initiative of Turn Your Concern Into Action Foundation (‘TYCIA’) to arrange an air-conditioned bus for 60 migrant labourers from Bihar and facilitate their travel from New Delhi to Sitamarhi in Bihar and from New Delhi to Patna in Bihar.
Before transportation, all the migrants underwent medical screening by a registered medical professional to ensure none of them showed symptoms of COVID-19 before they boarded the bus.
The migrants were also provided with basic food supplies and sanitization kits (including gloves, masks and sanitizers) before the commencement of travel. Adequate provision of food and basic amenities were made for the Migrants for the journey.
The volunteers of the project further kept in touch with the local administration to ensure that upon the arrival of the migrants at their point of destination, they were properly quarantined as per Government directions and that, basic amenities were provided to them.
‘Shramik Saarthi’ has provided dignity kits to 30 families in Bihar, 250 workers in Delhi and 30 migrants of Madhepura, Bihar. Through TYCIA, it also facilitated the arrangement of food provisions for 30 migrant workers in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh who were travelling from New Delhi to Madhepura in Bihar via Sitapur.
‘Shramik Saarthi’ also tied up with ‘Koshish Charitable Trust’ (‘Koshish’), a registered NGO in Patna, and provided Dignity Kits to 30 poor families of 4 to 5 people each in Patna, Bihar. Each Dignity Kit contained food grains, milk, masks and sanitary pads.
Further, collaborating with United Religions Initiative (‘URI’), the team has provided dignity kits which would cater to roughly 250 needy workers in New Delhi.
This apart, the volunteers of 'Shramik Saarthi’ have attended to distress calls and facilitated assistance either through local authorities or through NGOs/ solidarity groups working on the ground.
It has facilitated the procurement of e-pass and medical certificate for 30 migrant workers stranded in New Delhi for travel to Madhepura, Bihar.
As of June 7, ‘Shramik Saarthi’ has collated and distributed a list of active government helpline numbers of all 38 districts of Bihar.
It has created a comprehensive database of government and non-government information/ data such as COVID-19 Helpline Numbers, E-pass links, latest Centre and State guidelines/ directives/ notifications/ circulars/ press releases/ schemes, relevant judgments of Courts, State labor helpline numbers and contacts of NGOs providing basic amenities such as food, water, shelter and medicines.
The ‘Shramik Saarthi’ has commenced its second phase of operations now and intends to send more migrants home by sponsoring bus fare as well as train tickets.
Bank Name - State Bank of India
Branch - CNLU Branch, Mithapur Patna
Account Name- Chanakya National Law University Patna
Account Number - 34992255957
IFSC CODE - SBIN0015996
The students of the Legal Aid Clinic and the Legal Aid Committee of RMNLU have also arisen to the occasion to help helpless migrants.
Initially, a team of about 20 volunteers came together for making calls to more than 1,000 people whose contact details were procured on collaboration with NLU, Jodhpur.
It was noted that the migrant workers were facing a barrage of problems ranging from lack of transportation to shortage of food and unsanitary conditions.
Although many people had already managed to reach Jharkhand, they were facing an acute shortage of food and ration there.
To address these problems, the volunteers got in touch with Varsha, an independent human rights worker in Jharkhand and the Right to Food Campaign to seek assistance for their mission.
Subsequently, Block-wise lists were compiled and sent to these NGOs who, in turn, forwarded them to the Block Development Officers and coordinated with them to help the people in need.
The efforts of the volunteers bore fruit when they were informed by the District Collector of the Girdih district, that more than 150 families had been provided ration kits pursuant to their endeavours.
Motivated by the success they witnessed in Jharkhand, the team has made concerted efforts to increase their reach and provide assistance to those in need, in whichever way possible.
Further, the Legal Aid Committee of RMLNLU has been working with migrant workers and has dedicated volunteers helping people with problems which, inter alia, includes transportation and food shortage issues.
Keeping up with the idea of collaborating with other NLUs, the Legal Aid Clinic and the Legal Aid Committee also worked with GNLU, Gandhinagar to help workers stranded in Pune to board the train to their home towns in Madhya Pradesh.
Under the guidance of the Centre for Labour Research and Action, the team was provided with another opportunity of helping around 1,000 workers stranded in Gujarat to reach Jharkhand.
The Legal Aid Committee has also launched a Legal Aid Helpline in collaboration with Indian Civil Liberties Union and GNLU, Gandhinagar.
The team expressed that this would pave way for the migrant workers stranded across the country, to contact the members who would then coordinate with government authorities and other NGOs to resolve their problems.