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Published On: Wed, Apr 29th, 2020

States get Centre’s nod to bring stranded people home

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migrantsNEW DELHI: The new guidelines issued by the Centre, stranded migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, and students will now be allowed to return to their their homes.
Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla said States have been asked to arrange buses to move groups of people. Buses shall be used for transport of such groups of stranded people and these vehicles will be sanitised and safe social distancing norms in seating will be followed.
The order comes a day after the Centre was asked to respond to issue by the Supreme Court, which was hearing a set of petitions asking that migrant labourers who do not have COVID-19 be allowed to go home.
The Centre has already allowed Uttar Pradesh to ferry back its migrants from Haryana a move that led states like Bihar and Jharkhand to question its lockdown guidelines that that froze road, rail and air transport and asked states not allow homebound migrants labourers across their borders.
The order from the Home Ministry says all states should designate nodal authorities and develop standard  protocols for receiving and sending such stranded persons. “In case a group of stranded persons wish to move from one state to another, states may consult each other, mutually agree to movement by road,” the order says.

The government on Wednesday amended its guidelines to allow inter-state transit of stranded students, pilgrims, migrant workers and tourists. Their movement will be allowed only by road, as trains and flights stay shut.
At the chief ministers’ meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar specifically demanded that the guidelines be amended.Kumar has received criticism for not arranging for transportation of Bihar’s student’s and migrants when other states have done so.
In recent days, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and some others have evacuated students from Kota. UP has also evacuated 12,000 of its migrant workers from Haryana.
The states in the transit route would allow passage of such persons to the receiving state. On arrival at their destinations, these persons will be put in home quarantine unless their health condition requires keeping them in institutional quarantine.

Sources said the decision to allow stranded people to go home came after pressure from within the BJP. There were concerns that the migrant crisis could damage the party politically and feedback to this effect was given to party chief JP Nadda during a virtual meeting with MPs and MLAs.
The lockdown was announced by PM Modi on March 25, leaving thousands of migrant labourers across the country stranded and vulnerable. With jobs and in many cases, shelters gone, many tried to make their way home on foot. Some did not make it, collapsing hours away from home after the hard trek, often without enough food or water.
The Centre had assured that migrant labourers will be looked after by the states where they were located. But the situation on the ground indicated otherwise, with reports of hunger coming in from various corners of the country.

In the national capital, people were seen queuing up for lunch since dawn outside the relief centres. In Surat and Mumbai, the migrants held violent protests, demanding that they be allowed to go home.
(With Agency Inputs ).

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