The Centre on Friday issued an advisory to all States and Union Territories to make adequate arrangements for migrant workers and students from other states amidst the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Union Home Secretary has written to all States and UTs to take immediate steps to provide adequate support, including food and shelter, to migrant agricultural labourers, industrial workers and other unorganized sector workers during the 21-day nationwide lockdown.
The advisory suggests that in order to mitigate the situation for unorganized sector workers, particularly stranded migrant workers, states/UTs should explore different possible measures by involving various agencies, including NGOs, to provide food and shelter with basic amenities like clean drinking water, sanitation etc.
Further, the States and UTs have also been advised to make these vulnerable groups aware of the measures taken by the Government including provision of free food grains and other essential items through PDS, and streamline the distribution system and thereby, help prevent avoidable movement of people.
The MHA has also advised 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, while observing precautions.
“While ensuring supply of essential goods and services, States/UTs are being repeatedly directed to enforce the lockdown strictly and take action against violators under various provisions of law. This is imperative to contain the spread of COVID-19,” a press release by the ministry said.
MHA issues advisory to all States/UTs to make adequate arrangements for migrant workers, students etc from outside the States to facilitate Social Distancing for COVID-19.
— गृहमंत्री कार्यालय, HMO India (@HMOIndia) March 28, 2020
Four days into the 21-day “total lockdown” across India, thousands of migrant labourers are walking long distances back to their home villages after all transport was stopped except for essential services.
Since Wednesday, scores of migrant workers have been spotted at Delhi-Ghaziabad border who were on their way home on foot crossing miles after miles.
Earlier in the day, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi had appealed to the general public and his party workers and ministers to provide food and shelter to the homebound migrants moving on foot passing through their towns, cities and villages.
Taking to Twitter, Rahul said: “Today, hundreds of our brothers and sisters, along with their hungry and thirsty families have to move towards their villages. On this difficult path of theirs, those of you who are capable enough, provide them with food, shelter and water. The appeal to help the needy is particularly from Congress workers and leaders,” he said.
Meanwhile, many state governments are doing what they can to prevent the movement of migrant labourers so as to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
The state governments of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka carried out a joint quarantine operation to help over a thousand migrant labourers from various districts of Andhra Pradesh.
The Andhra Pradesh administration received the information that 1,334 migrant labourers were trying to return to the state after obtaining passes from the Deputy Director of Fisheries in Mangalore, Karnataka.
The labourers, according to a press release by the Andhra Pradesh government, were headed towards the Nangili Toll Plaza in Kolar district, from where they would enter the state to return to their native places.
The Uttar Pradesh government has arranged for 1,000 buses to take the migrant workers to their respective hometowns amid the Coronavirus lockdown.
“Transportation officers, bus drivers and conductors were called by chief minister Yogi Adityanath last night to make all the arrangements,” said Government of Uttar Pradesh.
Hundreds of migrant workers continued to pour into Uttar Pradesh from Delhi-UP border in the morning while the UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) continued to ferry them to their destinations from different areas of Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar.
Kerala has opened 4,603 special camps exclusively for the migrant labourers in the state.
“In these camps today there are 1,44,145 migrant labourers and we have ensured the supply of masks, soaps and sanitisers. More camps will be opened. We have asked district collectors to see this as their individual responsibility,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Friday.
“We have also decided to issue leaflets in Hindi, Oriya and Bengali and also videos which will be played in the camps. Community kitchens will provide food in these camps,” Vijayan added.