After the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a notification permitting inter-state movement of people, including migrant workers, tourists and others, to enable them to reach their homes, state officials said on Wednesday that a high-level meeting is likely to be convened on Thursday to discuss modalities.
Discussions on finalising modalities would take place on Thursday, a senior bureaucrat said.
The MHA decision has come as partial relief to the Maharashtra government, which had been pressing the Centre to make arrangements to send lakhs of migrant workers from the northern states, stranded since the lockdown began on March 25 in urban centres of the state, including Mumbai, without any means of income or shelter. The state was keen that this should happen before May 3, when the ongoing lockdown may be extended again.
The last time it was extended on April 14, nearly 2,000 migrants at Bandra in Mumbai had taken to the streets in the belief that the government was going to send them home. Keen to avoid a repeat, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had repeatedly conveyed to the Centre that it should start special trains and issue guidelines before the end of April.
As per the guidelines issued on Wednesday, the migrants would now be sent home in “sanitised” buses.
The state will have to do the heavy lifting for this, including arranging thousands of buses and the screening each person who would be transported across the state borders.
But the government has already done some homework on sending the migrants home by road, as state Transport Minister Anil Parab had told The Indian Express in an interview earlier this week.
Parab had said the government had worked out the exact details of number of buses it has in each division.
“We can transport only 20 to 22 people in one state transport bus, as we have to follow social distancing norms. So, we have kept 10,000 buses ready. Around 1.5 lakh people can be transported by these buses,” he had added.
The minister had further said that the migrants will have to be registered with the government authorities – police or district collectors.
“They should have at least one identity card. People who do not have access to any shelter will be the first to be moved out,” he had added.
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