Palace Grounds on Saturday was a scene of chaos and confusion as more than 9,000 migrant labourers from northeast India and Odisha on Saturday congregated at the venue. The number of people who gathered at the grounds, which is a transit centre for migrant labourers from where they are put on trains, exceeded capacity. Malfunctioning of the Seva Sindhu portal led to the confusion, senior police officials said.
Those travelling on two trains one to Manipur with a capacity to take 1,500 people and the other to Odisha with a capacity to take 1,600 people were supposed to report at Palace Grounds where they would undergo a medical check-up before being taken to railway stations. However, over 3,000 people from north-eastern States and more than 6,000 from Odisha, who had registered on Seva Sindhu, were sent text messages asking them to report at the ground on Saturday. As against a total capacity of just over 3,000 on the two trains, there were over 9,000 people congregated, making it a nightmare to manage, said a senior police official.
The crowd spilled onto the road, and there was a queue for over 2 km to even get into Palace Grounds. As social distancing was impossible to maintain, people became agitated when they realised all of them would not be able to secure a berth on the trains the same day. Medical Education Minister, in-charge for COVID-19 affairs, K. Sudhakar rushed to the spot and tried to pacify them. KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar, who lives close by, also visited the ground and criticised the State of affairs.
Eventually, all those who congregated at Palace Grounds on Saturday, were housed in the marriage halls on site, where the BBMP arranged them food. An additional train to Odisha was arranged and 1,500 more migrants from the State were sent home. We will clear this backlog in the next three days, a senior civic official said.
Meanwhile, N. Manjunath Prasad, Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, nodal officer for travel out of the State, has written to Divisional Railway Managers saying the State government would deposit a lump sum amount with the Railways towards travel costs of migrant labourers leaving from Karnataka. The letter also states bus services of the State from their place of residence to railway stations will also be free for migrant labourers.