Sea of humanity engulfs Kaushambi bus depot

Bus service announced by Uttar Pradesh government brings relief to migrant labourers walking to their destinations

Published - March 28, 2020 11:23 pm IST - Ghaziabad



A sea of people flooded the Kaushambi U.P. Roadways Bus Depot on Saturday evening as the State government was forced to resume bus service for 48 hours for migrant labourers to reach their destinations. Throwing the appeal for social distancing to the wind, the passengers rushed to occupy all possible spots on the buses.

Having spent many hours on the road walking, they were simply relieved, notwithstanding the dangers of COVID-19 or the fact that they still had to find the bus to their route.

No match

The police presence could not match the number of people, but the passengers were following basic discipline. Half-a-dozen policemen were stationed on the stairs to the bridge, teeming with people, that connects Anand Vihar bus stand to Kaushambi bus depot.

“We are targeting to clear it [the rush] by tonight. As you can see, given the number of people, we cannot even test the temperature. But we are informing the district officials of the destination of every bus. They would check every passenger before they deboard,” said ADM (City) Shailendra Kumar Singh, who was grappling with the “unprecedented” situation.

On the delay, he said, “There was little we could do. We were waiting for orders from the top. Apart from government buses, we are also engaging private ones.” Mr. Singh, however, refused to give a specific number of the government and private buses ferrying passengers. “We are providing food to at least 20,000 people,” he added.

Local NGOs and workers of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh could be seen distributing oranges and pulao to passengers. Asked why they didn’t turn up on Friday, one of them said, “We were there, you might have missed us.”

U.P. Roadways official Subhash Mishra, who was manning the Mohan Nagar Depot, said, “The buses would be checked at every depot so that the driver and conductor do not take the passengers for a ride. I feel the plight of these people should have been taken into account before the lockdown was announced. Now, this window has given an opportunity to even those who don’t really need to leave the city. There is clear difference in the kind of people who were pleading for support on Friday and those who are enquiring today,” he said.

On speaking to a cross section of migrant workers, however, it was clear that not all of them belonged to the same economic strata. Many of them saw it beneath their dignity to queue up for free food. “I pay ₹2,000 as rent. I would like to buy my food. It is just that I am caught in an unprecedented situation where I don’t know whether I would get my salary for the next month. The government should have thought of people like us. When they could bring people from abroad, why can’t they send us home,” asked Aditya, who works in the kitchen of a popular banquet hall in Ghaziabad. Looking for a bus to Rishikesh, his colleague Rajesh chipped in, “They line up for our votes, but it seems we are not a part of their plan.”

Sunil, a daily wager, who was looking for a bus to Hardoi, asked, “What is the guarantee that I would not get the infection in Delhi? At least my village’s air is clean.”

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