Covid 19 Lockdown: Centre order states to stop, shelter migrants walking back home
New Delhi : After reports of hundreds of migrants walking to reach their homes, the Indian government ordered the closure of borders and announced steps to ensure food, shelter and wages to the informal workers. The move comes after an exodus was prompted by a 21-day national lockdown to control the spread of the Covid-19.
Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana organized a coordinated effort to reduce the swelling migrant workers from the borders and arranged around 2500 buses to ferry the migrants to their hometowns. While officials worked through Saturday night to transport stranded workers from Anand Vihar in the Capital to bordering areas, by Sunday morning, the operation shifted to Lal Kuan in Ghaziabad. From Lal Kuan, long-range buses took people to their villages in several districts of Uttar Pradesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the lockdown on March 25, since then people have been seen walking hundreds of kilometres to reach their hometowns. The migrants cited lack of money, food and shelter as the prime reasons behind their actions. The health experts have issued a warning that an exodus could run contrary to the purpose of the lockdown - breaking the chain of infections.
On Sunday, the Centre ordered state governments and Union Territories to "effectively seal" state and district borders and stop the exodus.
In another announcement, the officials said that the migrants who have already reached their destinations will be put in 14-day quarantines for violating the lockdown to make sure they haven’t contracted the infection.
In an order, the Union home ministry said: "Movement of a large number of migrants has taken place in some parts of the country so as to reach their home towns. This is a violation of the lockdown measures on maintaining social distance."
It said that to effectively implement the lockdown "and to mitigate the economic hardship of the migrant workers", district magistrates and police officers were being directed to take a host of measures.
The five measures are temporary shelters and provision of food for the poor, including stranded migrants; 14-day quarantine of those who have already moved; uninterrupted wages and exemption from paying rent for a month.
"If any landlord is forcing labourers and students to vacate their premises, they will be liable to an action," the government said.