In a major relief to thousands of migrant workers and other stranded persons willing to return to their home states amid the lockdown, the Maharashtra government Thursday discontinued the need for a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner while seeking permission to travel from the police.
The order, signed by Maharashtra Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta, stated migrants and stranded persons will be screened by government medical staff at the time of start of their journey, free of cost. Subsequently, a list of all passengers, indicating that they have been screened and found to be not displaying any influenza-like illness, will be issued by the medical person in-charge, which shall suffice, it stated.
Migrant workers stranded across the state had faced difficulties procuring the certificates from medical practitioners, with many forced to stand in line for hours outside the few private clinics that were functional. There have also been several complaints of overcharging for medical certificates.
The order coincides with Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) efforts to roll out a portal to ensure hassle-free bookings for buses travelling within the state. The portal, expected to be up in the next two days, will allow anyone to register for their travel within the state after obtaining a nod from the local police station.
“The travel permits will be issued by the police, depending on the zone from which an applicant belongs. Those under containment zones will not be allowed to travel, as per the state guidelines,” a senior official from the transport department said. Each bus will ferry a group of 20 people for a particular destination within the state.
People from the city limits of Pune and Mumbai, deemed coronavirus hotspots, except from areas earmarked as containment zones, can avail the service, officials said.
While buses are currently charging Rs 44 per km along with taxes, state Transport Minister Anil Parab Wednesday had indicated that the state may allow free of cost transportation of migrants stuck in various cities to their districts within Maharashtra. “We have made a request to the state government to allow those stranded within the state to travel free of cost. We are awaiting their response,” Parab said Thursday. The issue of transportation of migrants was reportedly also discussed in the state Cabinet meeting Wednesday.
The state is also considering a proposal to deploy buses along state border to ferry people entering Maharashtra to their hometowns, Parab said.
Meanwhile, six buses carrying migrants and stranded persons to Rajasthan were stopped at the border for more than six hours, as the state refused to allow them permission to enter. “We are not sure of the fate of these buses, if they will be allowed to enter. We have urged the Maharashtra government to intervene and allow them to enter Rajashtan,” said Harsh Kotak of Bus Malak Sanghatna.
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