7 in UP, 5 in Odisha, 2 in Chhattisgarh, 9 in Bihar test +ve
With tens of thousands of migrants workers beginning to return to their respective States, the fear of corona spreading thick and fast — as was contended by the Home Ministry while repeatedly opposing their movement — is coming true.
Seven of these workers who returned to Uttar Pradesh from Maharashtra have tested positive. Five migrant workers have tested positive in Odisha and two in Chhattisgarh. Nine migrant workers from Bihar tested positive in Bangalore.
The Government had told the Supreme Court in the past that there were fears that one third of the total migrants could be infected. However, there was test carried out before starting the process of transporting them by train.
According to Basti’s district magistrate Ashutosh Niranjan, the seven labourers had travelled from Maharashtra via Jhansi in Government buses to Basti tested positive. They were quarantined at a Government shelter in Haraiyya area.
Their samples were taken and they have tested positive for Covid-19. Heavy sanitisation of premises has been done where they were quarantined.
“The labourers have been shifted to a community health centre (CHC) in Munderwa area. Out of the total 31 cases in the district, 1 Covid-19 patient has died while 13 patients have been discharged from the hospital after they recovered. There are presently 17 active cases,” Basti DM said in a statement.
UP was one of the first States to send buses to bring back migrants. The UP Government has made plans to bring back 10-12 lakh migrant workers home from different parts in the country, especially Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana and Punjab.
On Thursday, nine migrant workers tested positive in Bangalore. Their roommate was a 54-year-old migrant worker from Bihar who tested positive on Wednesday. With no mass scale testing done in case of migrants and quarantine being the only basis for their movement back to home, the fear they could be carrier of the virus has kept everyone worried.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was strongly opposed to the idea of taking back the migrant workers at this stage, but had to succumb after the Ministry of Home paved the way for their return.
On Saturday, five Shramik Special trains carrying almost 5,000-6,000 migrants left Kerala to Jharkhand and Bihar. Out of the five trains, two each are for Bihar and Jharkhand and one for Odisha.
Three special trains, carrying 1,200 migrant workers each left Saturday night for Uttar Pradesh and Odisha from Gujarat’s Ahmedabad and Surat stations, while two trains will leave from Ahmedabad to Agra, another will depart from Surat to Behrampur in Odisha.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Saturday urged Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to run at least 28 trains to bring back 1.17 lakh labourers from the State stranded in 21 States and four Union Territories.
According to Railways, the first Shramik Special train to Bihar, carrying 1,187 migrant labourers, reached the Danapur railway station in Patna from Rajasthan’s Jaipur on Saturday afternoon after a 16-hour journey.
Meanwhile, the first “Shramik Special” train carrying 839 migrant workers would be arriving at Lucknow railway station from Nashik in Maharashtra on Sunday. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has asked officials to firm up a plan to provide employment to nearly 20 lakh people in the State.
He also asked them to compile all details including names, addresses, mobile numbers and work competencies of labourers returning to the State to facilitate their employment.
On the other hand, the Indian Railways will charge for tickets for operating special trains for stranded migrant workers. The fare includes the price of regular sleeper class tickets plus superfast charges of Rs 30 and an additional charge of Rs 20.
“This includes meals and drinking water for long-distance trains. State Governments will coordinate and can pay on passengers’ behalf, the Railways clarified.
Interestingly, State Governments and railways are neither announcing the schedule of the trains in public nor giving too much of advance notice to the migrants.
In a related development, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik discussed transportation of Odisha labourers residing in Karnataka. The two Chief Ministers were joined by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan via video conference mode and discussed the current status of migrant labourers.
Meanwhile, Yediyurappa and Deputy Chief Minister Lakshman Savadi discussed the modalities of allowing migrants travelling by State owned buses to their respective districts in the State. It was decided that single fare tariff for migrants travelling by Karnataka Roadways buses in the State be allowed after following social distance. The other fare is to be borne by the labour department.
Haryana Chief Minister Manoharlal Khattar has asked migrant workers in the State not to leave and start working in industrial units that have been allowed to resume operations amid lockdown.
Sunday, 03 May 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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