Coronavirus | Lal Kuan is the new epicentre of migrant exodus from Delhi

There are orders from Delhi and Central govts that lockdown rules be followed strictly, says official

Updated - March 30, 2020 01:50 am IST

Published - March 29, 2020 11:17 pm IST - Ghaziabad

Migrant workers waiting to board buses at Lal Kuan in Ghaziabad on Sunday.

Migrant workers waiting to board buses at Lal Kuan in Ghaziabad on Sunday.

After facing a spate of migrant workers on Saturday night, Kaushambi Bus Depot wore a deserted look on Sunday as the Ghaziabad district administration shifted the buses to Lal Kuan on the outskirts of the city. Across the road, Delhi’s Anand Vihar, which was functional for a while in the morning, suddenly suspended services around noon, forcing hundreds of passengers waiting outside to vacate and reach Lal Kuan.

K.K. Dahiya, Special Commissioner, Transport, told The Hindu: “If we continue like this, it would be a mockery of the lockdown. There are orders from the Delhi and the Central governments that the rules of the lockdown should be followed in letter and spirit. We are sending 296 buses of the Delhi government to Lal Kuan to support the U.P. government.”

The action meant that people who were swarming the Delhi-Ghaziabad border got distributed. The bridge between Anand Vihar and Kaushambi was closed, forcing people to take long detours to reach Lal Kuan, which incidentally is not a designated bus depot. On a busy day, it is just an intersection where buses going to Aligarh, Etah, Kanpur, Lucknow and beyond slow down to fill the vacant seats.

“Last night, at one point in time there were around one lakh people around Kaushambi,” said Neeraj Jadaun, Suprintendent of Police (Rural), who was pressed into service to maintain order. “We thought it would be better to distribute them. By morning, the rush subsided.”

R.K. Tripathi, Assistant Regional Manager, Uttar Pradesh State Roadways Transport Corporation, said, “My guess is 70% to 75% of people boarded the bus last night. We hope we would finish the process today from Lal Kuan.”

On National Highway-51, the good old G.T. Road, one could see a steady stream of people walking down to Lal Kuan.

Workers from Nepal

There were Nepali workers from Loni patiently waiting for a bus to Sonauli on Nepal border. There were adventurous ones, who mounted a milk tanker to reach neighbouring Meerut. Policemen were not as rigid as they were when this walk home started on the day of the ‘janata curfew’.

Food, fruits and water bottles, which were missing all these days, were available for free along the way. Kawin, a hawker in Loni, said: “Had this supply reached home, we would not have been here. Four-five days are okay, this seems to be a long haul.”

One could still see ration trucks brimming with migrant workers moving in the city.

At Lal Kuan, Roshni was washing the hands of her daughter, dressed in a sparkling dress, on the divider. Asked why was she taking the long ride to Farrukhabad with little children, Roshni nonchalantly remarked, “ Mankar raha hai (My heart says so). My husband has no work. His supervisor said chhutti hai (holiday), so we are going home.”

When one told her that the PM had apologised to people like her and that she would not have to pay the rent. “ Sirf Kehne Ki baat hai (It is just a statement). The landlord wouldn’t listen….”

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