The Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday arranged 1,000 buses to ferry migrant workers trying to return to their villages amid the countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus, reported PTI.

The nationwide lockdown, which entered its fifth day on Saturday, has left thousands of workers in the informal sector without jobs and any means of sustenance. Reports of these workers attempting to walk back to their villages have also emerged from many parts of the country in the absence of public transport.

An official spokesperson of the Uttar Pradesh government said bus drivers and conductors were roped in on Friday night to help those stranded in Noida, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahar, and Aligarh, among other places. “Till late in the night, Chief Minister Adityanath was busy issuing instructions for arranging buses for the purpose,” the spokesperson added.

The official also said that Adityanath had directed authorities to make arrangements for food and water for the workers across several bus depots in the state. Senior police officers reached the Charbagh bus station in Lucknow to ensure that those arriving there were provided with food and water.

The buses later left for Kanpur, Ballia, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Azamgarh, Faizabad, Basti, Pratapgarh, Sultanpur, Amethi, Rae Bareli, Gonda, Etawah, Bahraich, and Shravasti, taking the workers back to their homes. Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police Hitesh Chandra Awasthi and Lucknow Police Commissioner Sujit Kumar Pande were monitoring the arrangements made for the workers, the spokesperson said.

The lockdown has been acknowledged by both experts and Opposition leaders as a necessary move to control the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. However, several leaders have expressed concerns about the economic fallout of the lockdown and its repercussions for the economically weaker sections of the society as they grapple with unemployment.

The Union health ministry has so far confirmed a total of 873 coronavirus cases in India, including 19 deaths and 78 recoveries.

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Migrant labourers killed in accident

Meanwhile, four labourers were killed on the spot while three others were seriously injured when a speeding tempo ran over them on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway on Saturday, reported PTI. Police said the incident took place around 3 am near Parol village in Vasai tehsil.

The victims were among thousands of migrant labourers from Gujarat and Rajasthan who were going to their villages in Rajasthan on foot, but were stopped at the Maharashtra border and sent back.

In a separate incident, eight people, including an 18-month-old boy and a nine-year-old girl from Karnataka, were killed in a road accident on the outskirts of Hyderabad late on Friday, reported The Indian Express. Six others sustained severe injuries.

The victims were employed in a construction firm in Suryapet district of Telangana and were returning to their home in Raichur district of Karnataka due to lack of work amid the lockdown.

The vehicle that the workers were travelling in was hit by a truck ferrying mangoes. The accident occurred around 10.30 pm at Pedda Golconda on the Outer Ring Road towards Hyderabad. The Shamshabad Police said a case was registered and an investigation had been initiated. Police have already instructed checkposts not to allow goods vehicles carrying passengers.

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