Old-timers cannot recall a time when Feroze Shah Kotla was last used as a place to house migrant labour. The stadium premises was used over the last three days to house and test migrant labour from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh before being transported to bus and railway stations to return home.
Colonel Vijay Bhushan, a retired Delhi cricketer, who played first-class from 1959 to 1973 says, the stadium was not even used during Partition for housing any migrant and this is the first time he is hearing of it.
On Tuesday, the ground that had housed about 2000-2500 migrants was sanitised after the last batch was dispatched.
“We have been told that there could be more labour that will housed here in the coming days,” said DDCA joint secretary Rajan Manchanda. “We were given a notice of 15 minutes by the Delhi government and the Delhi Disaster Management Authority the day before. They brought in beds, everything. They were being brought in twice a day. On the first day, we got 10 buses, carrying 500 people in the morning. Again, 10 more came in the evening, returning with the first one. Our entire staff was put on duty – electricians, plumbers etc.”
The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) had already sounded the government about making the place available for quarantine and also pledged R5 lakh to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund as well as R11 lakh to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, said Manchanda.
“The SDM had taken note of it on April 10 and put this in the list of places that could be used for contingency.”
The association, however, kept the dressing rooms and grounds out of bounds, giving the migrants the area around the nets.