The Centre on Saturday directed the state governments and Union Territory administrations to use the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), to which ₹29,000 crore has been allocated for the next fiscal year, for providing food and shelter to migrant workers affected by the 21-day nationwide lockdown.
This comes after thousands of migrant labourers had crowded bus stations in Delhi in a hope to go back home on Saturday after nearly 500 buses were managed for them by the Uttar Pradesh and Delhi governments.
Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Punya Salila Srivastava said the central government has also ordered the states to set up camps for migrant workers leaving cities and monitor their health at the camps.
The states and UTs were also told to ensure the availability of free food and accommodation to migrant workers through the public address system, volunteers and other mode of communications, she said.
14-Day Quarantine For Workers
As lakhs of migrant labourers return to their hometowns in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar amid a 21-day nationwide lockdown, a 14-day quarantine in state-run camps is compulsory for all of them.
Visuals from the bus station showed the workers crowding at the station, being scanned by doctors and health workers. Questions about their names, addresses, phone numbers were asked and only those suspected to have contracted the infection are being quarantined.
These are late night visuals of the bus station at east UP's Deoria . A bus carrying migrant workers reached from delhi . There was a team of @UPGovt docs , everyone was thermal scanned , no #Covid_19 suspect found , names and addresses noted and they were allowed to push ahead.. pic.twitter.com/aZ0z192ayu— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) March 29, 2020
My reports implored government for buses for hundreds of thousands of migrant labour walking.. But surely police should been stationed every 2 kilometres allowing only limited movement in single file. This is common sense.. You can't botch execution of this & blame the poor. pic.twitter.com/qNgQaogsb7— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) March 28, 2020
No suspect was found during the late-night screening.
Heart wrenching videos showed daily wage workers and migrants trying to go back to their villages on foot. Four workers from Gujarat were killed after they were hit by a tempo in Palghar while they were walking back home which was nearly 600 km away. Three others were also injured in the incident that took place on Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway on Saturday.
As a result of the nationwide lockdown, transport services including interstate buses and trains are suspended for the next three weeks to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed all the district magistrates to find over 1.5 lakh migrants who have returned to the state in the last three days, quarantine them in state-run camps and make sure all arrangements are made for their food and other essential needs.
The village bodies have also been directed to prepare a list of migrants.
"All of these migrant labourers have to stay in government camps for 14 days. They would not be allowed to return to their homes," Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said.
Last night, however, as some workers returned to eastern UP's Deoria district, many of them were allowed to go back to their villages after a minor thermal scanning.
In Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also directed officials to set up relief camps in the bordering districts for thousands of migrant workers who return to their villages amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The migrants will be permitted to go home only after the 14-day mandatory quarantine period.