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Catering to the migrant workers

The biggest and most heart wrenching situation that arose from the lockdown was that of the migrant workers. Lakhs of them were left stranded and many more were without food or shelter. Images of families walking miles on the highway or scrambling for a spot on the truck passing by occupied most of our feeds on social media. We at Ashok Leyland have been doing our bit to help the migrant workers across the country. Here is one of the stories from our plant at Alwar. 

The Assistant District Magistrate (ADM) of Alwar, reached out to our Alwar plant head for help for migrant workers. A special train had been arranged from Alwar to Bihar on the 24th of May to transport them back to their home town. The request was for food and water for 2000 people. Mr. Gopinath – HR Head from the plant, thought it was a god sent opportunity to contribute through our CSR program. After seeking an approval from the Corporate office (there were really no second thoughts), as a matter of formality; he plunged into making the arrangements. It was 3 p.m. on the 23rd and the food had to be delivered by 12 p.m. on the 24th to the ADM’s people. The train was to depart at 5 p.m. and the migrant workers would start coming by 12 for food and water collection. 

The capacity of the Alwar plant kitchen is normally for around 700 numbers at a time. However, currently, due to the pandemic, the kitchen has been catering to a maximum of 150 numbers.

The Kitchen staff were put to work and the provisions were procured. By the evening, Gopinath received a call to increase the numbers from 2000 – 2500. For this, additional provisions had to be procured. More water bottles too had to be bought. The ADM was keen to know what food would be packed. When he was informed it was be poori alu, he requested a change as the alu may get spoiled owing to the hot weather. So, pumpkin with mango and poori was to be served now.

The kitchen was pressed into action and after the preliminary work, the cooking began early next morning. Overnight, the numbers too had increased from 2500 to 2700.  Water bottles to be supplied, which were 250 ml, were now to be 1 litre bottles. 

There were a lot of challenges like cooking the food on time, packing it hygienically, and the new task of delivering the packets at railway station. The other norms to be followed were maintaining social distance and adhering to all precautions of COVID-19. 

However, the biggest challenge was the packaging of the food and the delivery which was not part of the original request. They used cartons from the scrap and managed to get 40 bags in per carton.  Since it was a Sunday, there was no one from the plant to help. The security staff helped out- 40 of them, to pack the individual boxes and they arrange them in the cartons. There was only one vehicle available at the plant and it could hold only one carton. The railway station was 17 kms away and that would mean around 67 trips! 

  The canteen vendor had a vehicle that could hold around 10 cartons and they decided to start sending the food in batches as and when they were cooked, packed and ready. The first batch left around 11 and by the time the 4th trip was made, that vehicle too ran into a problem. Luckily, the ADM’s office sent a vehicle and the last batch made it to the station by around 4:30 p.m. right before the train could leave. That was a close finish, but the satisfaction on the faces of the migrant workers who were eating the hot food was the most rewarding. 

    We are proud of our Alwar plant for having done this good deed.


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