Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday urged Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath to reconsider his plan to bring back migrant workers stranded in other states and Union Territories amid the countrywide lockdown to contain the coronavirus, warning that this could turn into a “big problem,” NDTV reported.
Adityanath had on Friday announced that his government will bring back labourers and workers who have been stranded in other states and have completed 14 days of quarantine in a phased manner.
“I heard UP Chief Minister’s statement and I would request against it,” Gadkari told the channel. “ I feel, at this point, we need to exercise caution. This is not the time. If someone contracts coronavirus, then it can become a big problem in Uttar Pradesh.”
Gadkari reiterated that the Centre had issued directions to all states and Union Territories last month to provide food and shelter to all migrant workers in their region.
“Right now there is coronavirus everywhere,” he said. “ If migrants return, they will not return alone, coronavirus will return with them. If the migrants are being taken back, it should be verified that they are not coronavirus positive. The situation is difficult right now, so, I feel the migrants should be given food and shelter where they are.”
Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot supported Adityanath’s plan and asked the Centre to devise a comprehensive and unified plan for the “smooth movement of migrant workers stranded across the country”.
“Since day one I have been saying a strategy must be devised for the smooth movement of migrant workers stranded across the country... unfortunately there is no clarity on the same,” he tweeted.
Gehlot said that only meticulously planned strategy with proper mode of commuting, such as special trains to be run by the government of India, will solve the problem of migrant labourers. “Planned strategy, unified command structure can be more fruitful than unofficial communication to states by offices like Home Ministry and Cabinet secretariat to facilitate movement of students and migrants,” he added.
Last week, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan also said the state government will bring back migrant workers stranded in other parts of the country, while Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said his state has also sought permission to conduct a similar exercise.
Earlier this month, the Uttar Pradesh government had also 250 buses to bring back stranded students from Rajasthan’s Kota amid the ongoing nationwide lockdown to combat the pandemic.
The move was strongly criticised by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who said allowing interstate movement of people is a “mockery” of the lockdown. However, Gehlot had praised the Adityanath government and said other states should also make similar arrangements. Last week, Gehlot said that five more states were expected to arrange for the return of their students studying in the coaching hub in Kota city.