The Government has made operational a shelter for migrant workers and urban homeless at Gorimedu and is exploring means to provide refuge to more such labourers who are stranded far away from home due to the nation-wide lockdown to check transmission of the novel coronavirus.

The shelter, which was readied by converting the existing community hall, is housing 69 migrant workers and other homeless people, primarily bystanders of JIPMER patients. Food, bedding and other essentials have been provided to the occupants, who are also under health supervision.

Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, who made an inspection of the shelter, said, "We have asked industries to provide shelter for migrant labourers at their sites in industrial areas such as Sedarapet. The Government is ready to open more such shelters if the need arises".

There are an estimated 3,000 migrant workers employed across various sectors, such as construction, steel and packaging industries in Puducherry.

Though the community centre has a capacity for 200, only about half that number can be accomodated in a situation such as this when there is so much importance on spacing, said Suriya, a volunteer from the Oulgaret-based NGO Virthu, which also runs the night shelter opposite JIPMER.

"We also plan to start skilling initiatives in making sanitisers and incense sticks," she said.

The population comprises workers hailing primarily from Odisha, and to a lesser extent, West Bengal.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has allowed States/UTs to dip into the State Disaster Relief Fund for relief measures during the lockdown phase. The MHA directed States/UTs to utilise disaster relief fund allocations for providing temporary accomodation, food, clothing, medical care etc for homeless people, including migrant labourers stranded during the lockdown.

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