According to a report by the Delhi government, at least 800,000 migrant workers travelled from Delhi to their home states in the first four weeks of the lockout, nearly half of them in the first week, highlighting that buses and other arrangements were made for labourers to avoid a repeat of last year’s crisis.
Between April 19 and May 14, when the lockdown was implemented to prevent a devastating fourth wave of infections, 807,032 passengers boarded buses to travel to other states from three interstate bus terminals (ISBTs) in Delhi. In addition to the regular buses that run from the terminals, the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand organised these buses specifically for migrant workers.
“The timely coordination with transport authorities of neighbouring states especially Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand by the Delhi government has helped about eight lakh migrant workers reach their destination without any difficulty. There was no complaint of overcharging as the interstate buses were owned and operated by the respective state governments,” read the report by the state transport department.
On April 19, a weekend curfew in Delhi was extended to a six-day lockdown. At the time, the city was averaging 20,000 cases a day, almost every third person screened was positive, and hospitals were overburdened with patients and running low on oxygen and critical medications. The lockout has been extended four times since then, despite regular infections and positivity.