BMC bags awards for distributing food kits during lockdown

A few days ago, at Ghodbunder Road crossing in Thane, where nearly 3,000 migrant workers gather every day from all over Mumbai hoping to get a bus to their villages hundreds of miles away, volunteers who were distributing food and water to them noticed a little boy come back repeatedly, but only to take water bottles. Curious, the volunteers followed him.

They saw the child pouring the water on his mother’s feet, peeling from continuous walking in the scorching sun.
“We have seen people make footwear out of plastic water bottles,” says Niranjan Aher, who runs the Alert Citizens Forum and has organised 18 to 20 volunteers who work in shifts in the area, providing essentials to migrant workers. “We have seen people plead helplessly, cry. Most of us are at home for fear of the novel coronavirus infecting us. This is a wholly different battle.” Mr. Aher is part of a network of volunteers and NGOs who collect and distribute non-perishable food, hygiene materials, water, sanitary napkins and basic medical support to migrant workers on chhota hathis or mini trucks. Led by UNICEF, this relief-on-wheels initiative has brought together over 50 NGOs in Maharashtra under the name ‘Maha C19 PECONet’ (Partners who support with resources, Enterprises who provide solutions, Citizen volunteers who help on the ground, and individuals who sustain the impact. ‘O’ is for ownership, the glue that holds the team together). So far, the group has served 62,150 migrants. On Tuesday, the team had to stop distribution at Vasai as the police feared a stampede. Over 16,000 people had turned up.
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