In the wake of restrictions imposed by the Maharashtra government to control the second wave of COVID-19 in the State, 40 civil society organisations have written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray with suggestions related to migrant workers, livelihood, healthcare, vaccination, and food security.
They have called for a 24-hour helpline to be set up to deal with specific issues people are facing.
“A situation of lockdown would once again result in loss of livelihood, income, and lack of access to basic survival needs, which would severely affect the majority poor, who are yet to recover from the impacts of the national lockdown,” the letter said. It added that such a situation should entirely be avoided and instead, alternatives should be explored, and measures put in place to ensure that the public health emergency and economic crisis on account of the pandemic did not worsen.
The organisations, who have been working with different communities for years and especially, during the lockdown, have submitted their suggestions to ensure poor communities do not face hardships in second straight year due to the restrictions.
To prevent a migrant workers crisis again, it suggested provision of adequate notice, a proper system to ensure safe travel to their home towns/villages, food security through the public distribution system, shelters for those who had lost, or were in need of housing, and money or cash transfer for their sustenance.
For food security, the letter said, foodgrains and rations must be made available to all, irrespective of documents they have. “Oil, fuel, cereals, other grains, and vegetables need to be included. Area-wise food centres should be set up to provide cooked meals to the poor,” it said.
On housing, the civil society groups suggested that rent moratoriums should be reapplied while government-run shelters should be provided to workers, homeless and poor.
“The health care access — for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 care — must be strengthened. There is also a need to set up medical centres in the urban slums and other populated or neglected areas,” the letter added.