Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has again appealed to migrant labourers to stay wherever they are instead of making it back to their states, pointing to the risk of infection spreading to villages, where it has not reached yet. Promising all possible help, including paying their rents if they are unable to do so, he said the people should think of themselves and their loved ones in this crisis and help contain the infection.
The fear of eviction in absence of an income has been one of the key reasons of migrant labourers rushing home to villages. Many said they were evicted by their landlords. On Sunday, the Central government said house rent should not be demanded from the labourers for this period and action should be taken against those who are asking labourers or students to vacate the premises.
"We have made arrangements for you to stay. Sleeping arrangements have been made at schools. An entire stadium has been vacated," said Mr Kejriwal, whose government has made arrangements to feed the needy through community kitchens.
At least 10 community kitchens are functioning across the city. Besides, all the kitchens which cooked mid-day meals for schoolchildren, have been converted to prepare food for the needy.
Sources said the menu is being changed every day and special focus is being laid on hygiene and nutrition.
"A lot of people are going back to their native places in several states," Mr Kejriwal said.
"I want to appeal to them with folded hands -- when the Prime Minister announced lockdown, he said 'jo jahan hai wo wahi rahe (please stay wherever you are)'. This is the lockdown mantra. If we don't follow this, we, the country will fail in the fight against coronavirus," he said.
"If two or four people have corona, they will spread to others. You will also be infected. If you go to your village, your villagers will be infected. If this spreads in the country completely, it would be a difficult task to control it," he added.
With the exodus of migrants continuing for two days, the Central government asked the states to help stem the tide. In an order on Sunday, the Union home ministry asked states to provide food and shelter for the needy -- including migrant laborers.
The states have also been asked to stop incoming buses at the border and place the occupants on mandatory 14-day quarantine. Food and other essentials should be made available to the people during this period, the Centre said.