The Centre on Wednesday issued guidelines to allow states to bring back migrant workers, tourists and students stranded in other states because of the nationwide lockdown. Those stranded can be allowed to move only after states consult with each other and agree on the movement by road, the government said.
The guidelines by the Ministry of Home Affairs came less than a week before the lockdown is set to end on May 3. The order directed states to appoint nodal authorities and develop standard protocols for the movement of the stranded people by buses, while observing safety measures amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It also said nodal authorities must register the stranded persons within their states and Union Territories.
“The moving person(s) would be screened and those found asymptomatic would be allowed to proceed,” the order signed by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said. “The states and Union Territories falling on the bus transit route will allow the passage of such persons to the receiving states and union territories.”
The buses will also be sanitised and follow social distancing norms in seating.
Local authorities will assess the health of those arriving at their destination and they will also be kept under home quarantine, unless assessment by local authorities requires institutional quarantine, the order added.
They will be kept under watch with periodic health check-ups and will be encouraged to use Aarogya Setu app, the home ministry said.
Struggling to make ends meet amid the lockdown, lakhs of migrant workers have demanded permission to go back to their hometowns. On Wednesday too, hundreds of migrant workers employed at a construction site on the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad campus attacked officials of the construction companies, demanding wages and permission to go home amid the nationwide lockdown.
On Tuesday, workers in Gujarat’s Surat city vandalised the office of a construction site after the contractors allegedly brought in more labourers from other parts of the state to speed up the work. Earlier this month, thousands of migrant workers had gathered in Mumbai’s Bandra suburb to protest, demanding transportation arrangements to go back to their hometowns.
Last week, the Uttar Pradesh government brought back over 12,000 labourers who were stranded in Haryana amid the lockdown. The state government also sent 250 buses to Rajasthan’s Kota city to bring back stranded students. Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Assam have also said that they will bring students back from the coaching centre hub.
On March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India was going into lockdown for three weeks in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.