NEW DELHI, India: The exodus from Punjab to Delhi has reached an all-time high, According to Indian Express more than twenty migrant families have been pouring into the Capital every day since the beginning of the month. On Tuesday 32 families turned up for relief at Delhi administration’s office at Tis Hazari. The number is increasing. With each passing day, an official pointed out making it a cause for concern, the recent migrations have mostly been reported from Amritsar district. The number has gone up in sharp contrast to the last three months, this year. In January 192 families reported for relief which dipped to only 83 in February and rose to 100 the next month but April’ is likely to see more than 400 families coming into the capital from the trouble torn areas of Punjab. None of the migrants are willing to return home despite attractive incentives offered by the Punjab government. The few who returned head for Pathankot. They are mostly genuine migrants, says Mr. Dwidi Parsad, New Delhi’s Executive Magistrate incharge of relief.

 Earlier lot of bogus migrants were discovered trying to take advantage of the government’s relief scheme. There were several cases of families trying to stake claim both from the Punjab government and the Delhi administration, the delay in verification of bona fides had led to. A lot of bogus claims. Earlier the government had agreed to pay fortnightly relief on an ad hoc basis until the verification from the Punjab government which took a long time to come but the practice has been discontinued from December last year and no relief is offered until the claims are verified which takes nearly three months. The relief offered by the Delhi administration consists of rupees 10 per member per day subject to a maximum of rupees 1000 per family. Apart from this one room apartment accommodation is provided to each family along with necessary civic amenities but Punjab offers much more. It provides a subsidy of rupees 5,000.00 coupled with transportation cost of rupees 2,500. And a loan of 20,000 rupees at minimal interest. Any eligible member of the family is also offered a job in the Punjab police. By way of housing a lower income group flat is given to the family at the place of its choice at a monthly rent of rupees 350, Yet few are wanting to go back due to the fear and the problem is further aggravated with the Punjab government having topped all incentives to those who have left the State after President’s rule was imposed on May 11, 1987. Itisa major hurdle for those wanting to go back, admits Mr. Prasad. The Delhi administration has also stopped issuing discharge certificates if Punjab is not willing to take them back. The recent immigrants who are waiting for relief mostly find a refuge in the houses of their relatives or friends in the Capital. Some have also tried to make a place for themselves in the refugee camps that have come up over the years. The largest such camp is at Piragarhi housing 1100 families in semipucca houses. Other areas include Mangolpuri, Jawalapuri and Govindpuri. Refugees have also been given shelter in youth hostels such as Palika hostel, and one on the Club Rd.

Article extracted from this publication >> April 22, 1988