Just after the announcement of a nationwide lockdown due to the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Government of Bihar took a swift decision to establish a helpline-cum-control room in Bihar Bhawan, New Delhi for migrant workers of Bihar stuck in any part of India.
The people-friendly helpline-cum-control room was started on March 25 under the leadership of Resident Commissioner of Bihar Shri Vipin Kumar. The motto of the control room is to assist millions of migrant workers of Bihar who are stranded in different parts of India due to lockdown.
Three dedicated helpline numbers (011-23792009, 011-23014326, 011-23013884) with ten hunting lines are operational round the clock to avoid any congestion while connecting Bihar Bhawan. Bihar Bhawan also started a Google doc forms service to enable stranded workers to submit their queries and request online.
A team of young officers under the leadership of the Shri Vipin Kumar, Resident Commissioner, Bihar acknowledges every request received from the migrants while acting on those in real-time. 60 staff members are deputed in the helpline in three shifts, maintaining social distance and hygiene, to assist the migrant workers. Officials at Bihar Bhawan in coordination with the local administration of concerned states help them to meet their basic requirements in terms of food, shelter, medical assistance. We are also facilitating financial assistance from the Chief Minister Relief Fund for them.
The helpline numbers are reaching out to migrants from Bihar who are in dire need of food, shelter and medicine. Bihar Bhawan gets calls from the migrants stranded in various districts of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand among others.
Immediate action is taken in coordination with the district magistrates, police administration, resident commissioners and senior officers of concerned states. At times, the helpline executives have to deal with some unusual request of migrants wanting to go back to their native place. The executives advise them to comply with the direction of the Government so as to defeat COVID-19.
The office of the Resident Commissioner has also worked to enable people to travel their native places in Bihar due to unforeseen situations such as the demise of someone in their family. There are many cases of pregnant women of Bihar stranded in other states who received immediate medical assistance after Bihar Bhawan officials coordinated with local authorities.
In multiple unprecedented incidents, Bihar Bhawan has walked extra miles to help the migrants stranded under adverse situations.
Shri Neeraj Thakur, a resident of Raghunathpur, Purnia, Bihar, who works in Delhi, contacted Bihar Bhawan after his mother breathed last on 29.03.2020. Son Neeraj went to Bihar Bhawan in Delhi and approached the Resident Commissioner’s office so that he could go home to attend the funeral of his mother. Without any delay, the Resident Commissioner issued a travel pass to send him and his family to his native place.
In a similar incident, Mr. Anwar Alam, a resident of Kishanganj district of Bihar, wrote to the Resident Commissioner of Bihar at Bihar Bhawan, New Delhi informing him that his father has passed away at his native place and he had to go home for the burial. Twenty-one-year old Mr. Alam used to work at Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. Alam was also sent to Kishanganj on 28th March 2020 by Bihar Bhawan.
Father of Ms. Apoorva Das (an engineer in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Bengaluru), who is a resident of Darbhanga district of Bihar, died in Chennai on 07.04.2020. She was supposed to go to Chennai to attend his funeral. She requested Bihar Bhawan. The Resident Commissioner of Bihar in coordination with the Bengaluru Police, issued a travel pass to Ms. Apoorva that helped her reach Chennai.
Meanwhile, there was information from Anambakkam in Chennai that a pregnant woman is unable to go to the doctor for her treatment due to lockdown. Her husband Shri Panch Narayan, resident of Lodipur, Sheikhpura (Bihar), apprised the Bihar Bhawan of the incident. The officials at Bihar Bhawan helped the woman with much needed medical facility in coordination with the local administration in Chennai.
Bihar Bhawan has received more than 22,000 calls, approximately 19,800 Google forms and more than 2,700 WhatsApp messages and letters for help till now, involving more than 900 thousand migrant workers of Bihar.
The Resident Commissioner Shri Kumar, many a time, talks to migrants on mobile inquiring about their well-being.
There is also a dedicated feedback mechanism in Bihar Bhawan to know about the actions taken by the local authorities on requests from Bihar Bhawan. So far, more than 90,000 positive feedback has been received at Bihar Bhawan from migrants of Bihar across India.
The Resident Commissioner Shri Kumar receives complimentary WhatsApp messages and videos on a regular basis from the migrants who have got assistance due to coordination work of Bihar Bhawan.