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Residents object to providing shelter to migrant workers
The ordeal of the migrant labourers who missed trains to their home towns continued on Monday with a section of residents in North Chennai opposing the lodging of the workers in various community halls and marriage halls alleging that they might be infected by COVID-19 and could lead to an outbreak in the nearby localities.
Most of the migrant workers who had come from Kerala on Saturday night had hoped to go to their home towns mostly in Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal on Sunday after the lifting of the Janata Curfew. But the cancellation of all trains services on Sunday left them stranded at the Central.
Over 1,700 stranded workers were decided to be accommodated at 17 temporary shelters of the Greater Chennai Corporation for the next 10 days.
When the workers were taken to the shelters, the locals started opposing it. A group of 97 workers were lodged at a private marriage hall in Tiruvottiyur after the residents of Thiruchanankuppam objected to their lodging at a government middle school.
“We tried to move them to the middle school, but rumours spread among the locals at Thiruchanankuppam that they were COVID-19 patients. So, the public opposed it. Hence, we have put them in a private marriage hall,” said a corporation official.
At Chennasekkadu in Manali, the residents opposed another group of stranded workers being provided temporary shelter at a Corporation community hall. Following the protest by the local people, the workers were moved to another community hall at Madhavaram.
Another batch of 63 stranded workers had to be shifted to a community hall at Mullai Nagar in Vysarpadi following a public protest at Mangammal Thottam at Washermenpet. “When we are rescuing Indians stranded in foreign countries, why should people object to the poor workers stranded because of the cancellation of train services? We have brought the workers after screening them for COVID-19 symptoms. Some miscreants are spreading unnecessary rumours through social media,” lamented a corporation official.
Corpn feeds stranded passengers
The Greater Chennai Corporation has converted its community halls and schools into relief centres to provide shelter and food to the passengers who have been left stranded. “In all, 1,727 persons have been lodged at community halls and schools in 17 places. Apart from food, arrangements have also been made to provide floor mats, blankets and others,” said the Corporation.
All the stranded passengers have been accommodated at these facilities, Corporation Commissioner G Prakash said. “Apart from this, Amma Canteens are continuing to provide adequate food,” he added. On Sunday, stranded passengers, most of them from northern states, staged a protest at MGR Chennai Central railway station seeking shelter and food and demanded the operation of trains for them to head home. The Corporation also has also rescued 610 homeless persons and took them to the shelters for homeless persons functioning at 51 locations across the city. “There are already 1,454 persons residing at the shelters for homeless persons in the city. With the newly rescued 610 persons, we are providing food and accommodation to 2,064 persons,” a Chennai Corporation official said. The official added that the stranded passengers would be provided food till the normalcy returned and train operation was restarted. Apart from spending from its own funds, the civic body has also invited donors to provide food to the rescued persons.