With private clinics charging anything between Rs 250 and Rs 500 to issue medical certificates, hundreds of migrant workers stranded in Dharavi, Sakinaka, Andheri East, Bandra East, and Malwani areas say they have to overcome yet another hurdle before they can actually make the journey to their hometowns.
The application forms, distributed by the Mumbai Police, for migrant workers seeking passes to travel to their hometowns require details such as the name, village, and how they plan to reach their villages. A medical certificate, confirming that the person is not suffering from any influenza-type disease, is also to be submitted along with the form.
Stranded at his work unit in Saki Naka, Ajay Tivari, a native of Madhya Pradesh, said a doctor in his area had demanded Rs 400 to issue a fitness certificate. “We are a group of eight people and were told to pay Rs 400 per person. Since we are out of work for nearly two months, we did not have so much money on us. We pleaded with the doctor, who finally agreed to reduce the amount to Rs 350,” he said.
Tivari added several people at Saki Naka, which has a large migrant population, were planning to take a loan or ask their families back home to send money to raise the sum for medical certificates and travel costs.
“We have heard that we have to pay for our tickets. We have only a little money left now. We were told that once the transport is arranged, we will be told about it. Since lakhs of workers have to leave, we do not know how much time it will take till our turn comes,” he added.
Migrants stranded in containment zones said they were faced with a greater ordeal. A Jharkhand native, Amit Yadav, who currently lives at Rajiv Gandhi Nagar in Dharavi, said along with 24 others had arranged a private bus to take them home. “We contributed around Rs 9,000 per person and got the travel forms filled, but could not get the medical certificates in time. The police were not allowing us to step out of Dharavi. When we finally managed to get to the only private doctor in the area, the queue there was so long that it would have taken all night to get the certificates.”
Yadav said the group managed to get medical certificates by Sunday evening on paying Rs 250 per person for the screening. “Now, there are no buses. We are trying to get vehicles, but no private transport is currently available due to high demand,” he said.
Meanwhile, as scores of workers lined up outside civic-run dispensaries and hospitals — most of which are already screening suspected COVID-19 patients — to obtain medical certificates, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Sunday issued a circular allowing private practitioners to issue such certificates.
“All registered medical practitioners practicing in Mumbai can issue such certificates after taking history and clinical examination of the persons wishing to travel that he/she does not have influenza-like symptoms,” the circular states. It also prescribes a format in which all civic-run and private medical professionals are expected to issue a medical fitness certificate. The circular does not mention the fees to be charged for issuing such certificates.
Earlier on Saturday, several private clinics and nursing homes had said they were hesitant to issue fitness certificates in the absence of clarity or guidelines from the civic body.
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