Twenty migrant workers who returned this week to Jharkhand from Surat, a Covid red zone, tested positive for the coronavirus late on Friday. All of them had received travel passes from authorities in Gujarat, who, Jharkhand officials claimed, had kept them out of the loop.
These migrants were part of a group of 56 working in Gujarat who hired a private bus on May 3 after paying around Rs 4,000 each to return to their home state. The group was stopped at the Garhwa border on May 5. They were quarantined and their samples collected.
This is single biggest spike in a day in the state, taking the total cases to 156. Fifty-two people have recovered.
One of the workers, requesting anonymity, said they were “growing restless” in Surat after hearing of various law-and-order issues. He said he had heard of the government’s plan to provide trains. “The state was not very swift. So, we decided to come back on our own. We got a pass and left for our state after paying more than Rs 2 lakh to the bus owner. 56 of us came together. With those passes, no one questioned us,” he said.
The Jharkhand administration said Gujarat had not coordinated with it on this lot of migrants. Chief Secretary Sukhdev Singh said: “They belonged to the initial lot where buses were sent, but we were not kept in the loop. Twenty of them are positive. After we intervened, there is cordination now.”
More than 13,000 people have returned to Jharkhand so far.
This not a one-off incident. In the first week of May, a truck carrying 35 labourers from Ahmedabad, another red zone, was stopped at Jharkhand’s Chatra district.
State Disaster Management Secretary Amitabh Kaushal said that there were certain issues with Gujarat initially which were streamlined later.
Other districts, such as Gumla, have faced similar issues with Chattisgarh.