Wait to get home gets longer for stranded migrants

The need to follow certain procedures, by states, before making arrangements to shift them by buses comes in the way of sending them back at the earliest

According to researchers, about 51 per cent of migrant workers in the state are working and residing in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur districts.

Ferrying the stranded migrant workers to their homes will not happen immediately but might take a couple of days.

Hours after the Union Home Ministry issued a set of guidelines, allowing the migrant labourers, students, pilgrims and tourists to return to their home states, it has emerged that the states might take a few more days to comply with the procedures prescribed in the central government’s order.

The states are required to follow certain procedures before making arrangements to shift them by buses.

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“I request all students and migrant labours to stay where you are. You don’t have to come to any centre or some square. It might take a couple of days, even a week, but be patient. Don’t panic and don’t put pressure on the police. Buses and drivers have to be arranged. Please follow the orders issued by local authorities,” said G Kishan Reddy, Minister of State for Home.

The minister’s appeal came a few hours after the Union Home Ministry issued a notification on interstate movement to allow stranded migrant labourers, tourists and students to return to their homes.

The fresh guidelines say that all stranded people can return to their hometowns after undergoing medical screening before boarding the buses and after reaching their respective destinations. The states must also organise thermal testing units and quarantine facilities for all those who are stranded, to clear asymptomatic cases, before sending them back.

However, the movement of migrants, tourists and students will be restricted to non-containment zones.

“The sending and receiving states must agree to movement by road only after the people are screened and found to be asymptomatic,” the order said, adding that states must also organise thoroughly sanitized buses.

All states and Union Territories are required to designate nodal authorities and develop standard protocols for receiving and sending the stranded migrants workers. The nodal authorities shall also register the stranded persons within their states/UTs.

In case a group of stranded persons wish to move between one state/UT and another state/UT, the sending and receiving states may consult each other and mutually agree to the movement by road.

The move comes in the backdrop of growing restiveness among migrant workers who are left high and dry. On their part, the states are finding it increasingly difficult to sustain migrant labour, with work and revenue sources drying up.

According to an affidavit filed by the Centre in the Supreme Court on April 12, nearly 16.5 lakh workers are living in shelters provided by their employers, while 14.3 lakh migrant workers have been put up in over 38,000 camps arranged by states and NGOs.

Additionally, 1.34 crore people are being given free food in over 26,000 camps across the country.

However, the Home Ministry’s order on ferrying migrant workers and others will not apply to those in the hotspots or containment zones. The Health Ministry has identified 129 of the country’s 736 districts as hotspots. On April 15, at the end of the first phase of the nationwide lockdown, 177 districts had been notified as hotspots.

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