Mamata writes letter to 18 CMs; requests aid for stranded Bengal workers

New Delhi, Mar 26 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to 18 chief ministers on Thursday, seeking aid for workers from the state who are stranded in different regions of the country due to the lockdown over the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The letter comes amid reports that migrant workers across the country were trying to walk back home due to unemployment, lack of shelter and food.

According to Census 2011, there are around 5-lakh migrant workers from the state who are working in different parts of the country.

'Bengal has many workers - semi skilled and unskilled, working in different parts of the country,' Banerjee said in the letter. 'Due to complete lockdown in the country for COVID- 19 pandemic, many Bengal workers could not travel back and are stuck at different places.' The chief ministers of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Delhi, Odisha, Karnataka and Punjab were among those who received the letter.

'We have received information that many such workers who are ordinarily resident of Bengal are stuck in your state too,' Banerjee said. 'We are getting SOS calls from them.' They are generally in groups of 50-100 and can be easily identified by the local administration, the chief minister said.

'Since, it is not possible for us to reach any help to them, I take the opportunity to request you to kindly ask your administration to provide them with basic shelter, food and medical support during this period of crisis,' she said.

'We, in Bengal, are taking care of such stuck people in our State,' Banerjee said in the letter.

She stated that the chief secretary would pass on the details of such people to the respective state chief secretaries to speed up this entire process of humanitarian support in this hour of crisis.

Earlier in the day, the Centre has announced a Rs 1.75-lakh-crore economic bailout to help the poor tide over the impact of the nationwide lockdown that is in place to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19.

The benefits -- through cash and food -- were targeted at farmers, migrant workers, the poor, women and the disabled, among others. PTI ASG SCH HMB