Migrant exodus shows lack of preparedness in AP, Telangana
Since the announcement of the lockdown by government, migrant labourers who wanted to go back home, have been kept in various shelter camps by state governments.

Migrant exodus shows lack of preparedness in AP, Telangana

Confusion and chaos prevailed at the inter-state border check posts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as hundreds of migrant workers remain stranded at no man’s land.

Confusion and chaos prevailed at the inter-state border check posts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as hundreds of migrant workers remain stranded at no man’s land.

Poor planning and lack of coordination between the two sibling Telugu States has increased the miseries of migrant workers.

Despite political bonhomie between the Chief Ministers K Chandrasekhar Rao and YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, there has been no coordinated effort to handle the exodus of workers following the lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus.

The trouble started when Andhra Pradesh police refused to honour the NOCs (No Objection Certificates) issued by the Hyderabad police to workers who wanted to leave the city and return to their home towns in the neighbouring state.

As a result, several workers were stranded near the border check posts in Kurnool, Krishna and Guntur districts in Andhra.

The returning workers, students, and professionals spent nearly two days at the state border until the Andhra Pradesh HC came to their rescue. The court directed the AP government to honour the NOCs issued by Telangana, and allow the workers to enter the state.

The court ruled that the AP government must place these returning workers in quarantine or home isolation.

Ten lakh migrants in Hyderabad

Hyderabad is home to about 10 lakh workers migrated from various states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha. With no transport available, hundreds of these workers started trudging along the highways to reach their native places.

Utter confusion prevailed in the first two days of the lockdown because the states had already sealed their borders.

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At one point, the migrant workers clashed with Andhra police leading to lathi-charge near Dachepalli in Guntur district.

The Telangana government had announced a lockdown immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for “Janata curfew” last week, without giving sufficient time for workers hailing from Andhra Pradesh and the other states to return to their native places.

The Paying Guest (PG) accommodations in the city, housing hundreds of students, also shut down due to the lockdown forcing several students, who suddenly found themselves without food and accommodation, to return to their homes.

Poor bear the brunt

Like other parts of the country, the poor and vulnerable sections are bearing the brunt following the sudden lockdown.

“It is surprising why the two governments failed to factor in the issue of exodus of workers. They should have anticipated the after-effects of the lockdown, and initiated timely measures such as deployment of special buses to ferry the people to and from Telangana,” senior analyst S Ramakrishna said.

Health check-up centres should have been set up at the inter-state border points so that the people with good health condition could have been allowed to go to their destinations, he said.

In AP’s Vijayawada, hundreds of workers from Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, and Chattisgarh, engaged as workers in construction, hotels and footwear companies, were stranded and appealed for transport arrangements from the government.

The lockdown has triggered a massive exodus of migrant workers across the country as casual labourers, who have been left without a job or money, scramble to reach home towns and villages in other states. Their plight is particularly acute in Delhi where migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand and other states account for nearly 40 percent of the population.

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Following a standoff at border with Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh has sent a 30-member team of doctors and other paramedical staff to help the authorities in the neighbouring state in setting up a quarantine facility in Kolar district for nearly 1,300 migrant workers. After the quarantine period, they will be allowed to return to their native places in Andhra. A majority of them belong to the coastal Andhra districts of Nellore, Srikakulam, Prakasam and Visakhapatnam.

Hotels as quarantine facilities

Waking up to the severity of the problem a bit late, Andhra Pradesh has finally decided to quarantine migrant labourers coming from the neighbouring states in hotels and marriage halls close to the inter-state borders.

“It is not possible to allow migrant labourers and other people belonging to our state coming from the neighbouring states unless they are cleared by the health authorities of any COVID-19 infection,” the health minister Alla Nani said.

He suggested that people from AP stranded in neighbouring states should stay put. “We shall extend all possible help to them from the government. But, if they want to come to AP, they should be prepared to be quarantined,” he added.

The CM Jagan Mohan Reddy instructed all the marriage halls and hotels at inter-state borders be brought under the control of the state government and converted into quarantine centres, after being sanitised thoroughly.

“The migrant labourers and other people coming from the neighbouring states be kept their under 14-day quarantine,” Nani said.

Assistance for migrants

The Telangana government has announced that it would provide 12 kg of rice and Rs 500 in cash to each of the 3.5 lakh migrant labourers from other states, who were stranded here as a result of the lockdown.

The Chief Minister said his government was ready to spend any amount to ensure that nobody in the state starves. He assured the migrant labourers that the government would provide food, drinking water and healthcare facilities.

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