BEC opens halls to migrants, labourers

Authorities bring in homeless people, provide them food, sanitation

Published - April 05, 2020 01:21 am IST - Mumbai

Nowhere to go: Migrant labourers rest at a shelter in Bandra (East) on Saturday.

Nowhere to go: Migrant labourers rest at a shelter in Bandra (East) on Saturday.

The Bombay Exhibition Center (BEC) has thrown open its exhibition halls for migrants and labourers rendered homeless due to the national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

A division of the Nesco Group of Companies, the BEC has space of almost two lakh square feet of exhibition halls located in Goregaon (East). BEC management said due to the closure of infrastructure projects such as the Mumbai Metro, vital link roads, coastal roads, construction sites and other daily jobs, thousands of migrant workmen have been adversely affected and left homeless. The BEC has, hence, allowed their exhibition halls, which were lying vacant due to the lockdown and can accommodate over 10,000 people at a time, to be used as shelters.

Sumant Patel, chairperson, Nesco Limited, said, “Currently we are facing a situation in our city, where thousands are rendered homeless with no access to basic necessities. It is our social responsibility and moral duty to provide a helping hand. We have provided our halls as temporary shelter and basic requirements while we battle COVID-19. We have coordinated with the local authorities to use our halls for this purpose.”

Dipesh Singhania, group chief finance officer and head of legal department, Nesco Group, said the BMC had informed them beforehand that they might need space either for their staff or for the labourers that the civic body has been helping. Nesco had, as a result, already kept the halls ready for inhabitation.

“Later, through communications with the Disaster Management Cell of the BMC, the space was handed over to the State. Whenever any people are found homeless or in need of help, the authorities bring them to these halls and they are provided with basic facilities like food and sanitation. These people are then shifted to a more long-term facility at Bandra Kurla Complex,” Mr. Singhania said.

He added, “Since food can be a sensitive matter in the times of this pandemic, the BMC prefers to provide it. The safety and hygiene of the people are given utmost importance by us and the government,” he said.

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