Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh announced Friday they were drawing plans to bring home their migrant workers stranded in other states while Chhattisgarh said it had sought permission to conduct a similar exercise.
In Lucknow, days after he sent buses to the Delhi border to bring back migrant workers, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath called a meeting and directed officials to draw up a plan for the return of UP’s migrant workers in a phased manner from other states after they complete 14 days of quarantine. In a video-conference later with District Magistrates, he said 5-10 lakh migrant workers are expected to return over the next two months.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan too said workers from the state, stuck in different parts of the country, will be brought home. He said he had spoken to counterparts in UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra and they had assured support.
In Raipur, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel told reporters: “We have also requested permission to bring back our migrant workers stranded across the country. Once the permission is granted, we will bring them back.”
UP Chief Secretary R K Tiwari told The Indian Express: “Chief Minister has directed today that a plan be prepared. No estimated number (of such migrant workers) is available at present, but it could be lakhs. That is why a plan has to be prepared to bring back such people in a phased manner. Ultimately, these people have to reach their destination.”
UP Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Awasthi said: “Chief Minister has asked us to prepare a workplan on how to bring back workers from other states where they have completed 14 days of quarantine. He has asked senior officials to prepare a list of such people so that there’s coordination with other states.”
According to an official statement of the UP government, such people will be brought to the borders of respective states and from there, sent in buses to the districts. They will be quarantined for 14 days in the districts where shelter homes and quarantine centres will be sanitised.
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The workplan will include operation of community kitchens at these shelter homes. After 14 days, they will be sent home with ration and told to undergo home quarantine for another 14 days.
At the review meeting, it was also decided send senior administrative officers, a police officer and a senior health officer to each of the 18 high-risk districts. The officers will camp in the districts and monitor lockdown measures, medical facilities and arrangements at shelter homes. They will send a daily report to the Chief Minister.
In Bhopal, Chief Minister Chouhan said residents of MP will be allowed to travel to other states to bring back relatives stuck there. He said workers from other states stuck in MP will also be allowed to return. The workers can arrange transport on their own or avail of facilities provided by their state governments.
State officials have been told to let stranded worker travel to their home districts. Chouhan said arrangements for screening and medical examination will be done on district and state borders. But workers from containment areas and affected districts like Indore will not be permitted to travel.
In New Delhi, officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs remained silent on whether UP and MP’s decision to bring home migrant workers from other states was in consonance with national lockdown guidelines that the MHA had issued on April 15.
Under the April 15 guidelines for Phase II of the lockdown, movement of people across the country is prohibited, the only exceptions being those engaged in essential services or those included in the exempted category. On April 19, the MHA issued a detailed standard operating procedure for movement of migrant labour for work within a state. It, however, said there could be no inter-state movement of labour.
— With ENS reports from New Delhi, Raipur