Following report of mismanagement at Suncity, Vasai, officials erect 40,000 sq ft tent for migrants

Updated: May 29, 2020, 14:07 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

As migrants camp outside Suncity ground, while waiting to be accommodated on a train, housing societies. say the area has become filthy amid lack of mobile toilets, ask authorities to take charge

Police chase migrants who have not been assigned a train. Pic/ Suresh Karkera
Police chase migrants who have not been assigned a train. Pic/ Suresh Karkera

A day after mid-day reported about thousands of migrants baking in the sun while waiting to be sent on a Shramik Special train, the Collector has ordered that more area be covered under a tent at Suncity ground to accommodate the travellers. The contractor building the tent said in addition to the 60,000 sq ft area already under a tent, another 40,000 sq ft is being brought under the shade.

Previously, the tent was built across a 60,000 sq ft area at Suncity ground. Over three dozen workers have been working since Thursday morning to erect another one to cover 40,000 sq ft of the ground," said Nisar Ahmed, the contractor from Nalasopara. The tent is expected to be ready by Friday morning.

Maximum applications to go home received by the Collector's office have been from migrants hailing from West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Considering the number of requests, sources at the tehsildar's office said that another huge gathering is expected at Suncity ground in the next couple of days.

orkers build another tent across 40,000 sq ft at Suncity ground in Vasai. PIC/HANIF PATEL
Workers build another tent across 40,000 sq ft at Suncity ground in Vasai. Pic/ Hanif Patel

"The makeshift tents are being expanded to accommodate maximum migrants at the ground. Two Shramik Special trains left for Jaunpur from Vasai Road on Thursday without any hassle. Considering the number of applications from migrants, we have requested the Indian Railways to first provide two trains for West Bengal and rest for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The number of trains for the latter two states will be decided later. The schedule of trains is sent by the railways late on the night before departure," Swapnil Tangade, Sub Divisional Magistrate, Vasai told mid-day.

The Collector's office requests trains from the Indian Railways once they have around 1,600 applications for a particular state. There are over 3,000 applications to travel to West Bengal currently.

The cops at the ground were heard making repeated announcements saying: 'Please aaplog dhup me na baithe, tabiyat kharab ho jaayegi, kripaya tent ke andar aakar baithe, duri banaye rakhe, Coronavirus se bachkar rahein.'

Only migrants assigned a train are being allowed in the ground. PIC/HANIF PATELOnly migrants assigned a train are being allowed in the ground. Pic/ Hanif Patel

The migrants are informed to reach Suncity ground once the schedule is sent by the Indian Railway. Except for the update from the tehsildar's office, there is no way for the migrants to know of the status of their application.

No message, no tent

On Thursday, all the migrants were seen seated at a distance from each other under the tent. Only migrants who have received the message about their trains are allowed to enter the tent. Police were seen keeping nearly 3,000 migrants who had not received the message out of the tent.

Migrants plead with police to be accommodated on a train. PIC/SURESH KARKERA
Migrants plead with police to be accommodated on a train. Pic/ Suresh Karkera

Barred from entering the tent, migrants have been camping outside housing societies nearby. This has led to housing societies protesting to their presence, calling them 'corona bomb', Secretary of Padmashree Co-Operative Housing Society, Kalpesh Jasani, said, "We have religiously adhered to government norms to fight against COVID-19 but these migrants have flocked to one place nearby our housing society and all the residents are scared."

"Municipal staff must sanitise our premises as they may be a corona bomb. We have been facing this issue for the past one week. We do understand the plight of migrants but the government should immediately do something for those who are stranded in this lockdown," he added.

The extended tent is expected to be ready by Friday. PIC/HANIF PATEL
The extended tent is expected to be ready by Friday. Pic/ Hanif Patel

A resident of the housing society, Rajeshree Chaukekar said, "These migrants have littered in the area. With no mobile toilets at the ground, the migrants have dirtied the surroundings. This needs to be cleaned up immediately."

The president of Suncity Association, Raju Isai said, "The condition is pathetic as a large number of migrants have taken shelter near our housing society as there was no facility at Suncity ground and migrants were forced to sit in the scorching sun. They have littered nearby areas."

Police chase away migrants

After receiving numerous complaints from several housing societies, police chased away migrants waiting in shade.

Among thousands of migrants, 72-year-old Rajeshwari Sharma too had reached Suncity ground on Thursday without receiving an official alert. "I was told by a neighbour that a train will go to Jaunpur from Vasai Road station and free tickets will be given at Suncity ground. I came here with my daughter-in-law and four grandchildren in an autorickshaw," said Sharma, who is too weak to walk.

"My son is handicapped and he is at our rented accommodation in Nalasopara. We have no food to eat. We have been starving for several days. So we wanted to go to our native place but the cops have chased us away from the ground. Now I have no money to go back to Nalasopara and I am too weak to walk," said Sharma, adding, "We had applied four times to get permission to travel to Jaunpur by train. But we have received no message till now."

Her daughter-in-law, Archana, used to work as a maid in housing societies. She too has been jobless since the lockdown.

A woman whose husband was chased away by cops. PIC/SURESH KARKERA
A woman whose husband was chased away by cops. Pic/ Suresh Karkera

"There is no ration at home. What will we eat? Children have been asking for food, we are helpless," said Archana.

Tehsildar Kiran Survase said, "Two trains are scheduled for Jaunpur on Thursday and we are giving tickets to those who have received a message from our office."

Local MLA Hitendra Thakur said, "I request all workers of BVA (Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi) to make a list of people who have not been given the chance to travel home. We will submit the list to the Tehsildar's office to expedite the process of sending them home. Meanwhile, we have arranged for food at different places. NGOs like Samadhan Foundation and Jeevdani Trust have been helping stranded people in the Vasai-Virar area. Our motto is to provide food and water to all the migrants."

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