The Union Home Ministry on Friday asked state governments to prevent a mass exodus of migrant labourers, industrial workers and unorganised sector employees from their workplaces to hometowns amid a 21-day nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus.

In an advisory to all states and Union territories, the home ministry said they should also make arrangements for uninterrupted supply of essential commodities to hotels, working women hostels so that they continue to live in existing facilities.

“The home ministry has issued an advisory to States/UTs to prevent mass exodus of migrant agricultural labourers, industrial workers and unorganised sector workers, so as to prevent the spread of COVID19,” an official spokesperson said.

The states and UTs have also been advised to make these vulnerable groups aware of measures taken by the government, including provision of free food grains and other essential items through PDS, and streamline the distribution system. “This would help prevent the exodus of such people,” the spokesperson said.

The home ministry has also advised the states and UTs to ensure that hotels, rented accommodations, hostels etc., continue to remain functional and delivery of essential items is streamlined, so that students, working women hostel inmates etc., are allowed to continue in existing facilities observing precautions. The coronavirus-enforced lockdown has triggered a mass exodus of migrant workers across the country.

Meanwhile reports of labourers crammed in trucks and laving for their homes have also come up since there is no work available anymore. An Indian Express report says, The incident of labourers travelling illegally in a railway rake was reported by the Uttar Pradesh authorities to the Railways. The rake was being brought back from Thiruvananthapuram to Gorakhpur, as part of a nationwide measure by the Railways for rakes stranded due to the national lockdown.