DELHI: On Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order that allows inter-state movement of the stranded migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students in different parts of the country with some conditions during the lockdown.
“Due to lockdown, migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons are stranded at different places. They would be allowed to move,” the MHA order issued by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said.
It further stated that all states have to designate nodal authorities and develop standard protocols for receiving and sending such stranded persons.
“Nodal authorities shall register stranded persons within their states or union territories,” said the order.
The MHA stated that this will be done through mutually-agreed terms between two states and the movement has to be carried out in sanitised buses with required social distancing. Only asymptomatic people would be allowed to travel & all such people will be medically screened at source and destination and kept in home or institutional quarantine on arrival, say the latest guidelines from the ministry. They would be kept under watch with periodic health check-ups and for this reason the MHA advised them to use the Aarogya Setu app through which “their health status can be monitored and tracked”.
States or union territories falling on the transit route will allow passage of such people. In case a group of stranded people wish to move from one state to another, states may consult each other, mutually agree to movement by road, said MHA.
The move comes in the backdrop of increasing inability of states to sustain migrant labourers in their states as revenue sources dry up. There have also been frequent instances of violent labour agitations in Maharashtra and Gujarat in recent days with migrant workers demanding to be transported back home.
According to an affidavit filed by the government 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 provided shelter in close to 38,000 camps built by states and NGOs. Additionally, 1.34 crore people are being given free food through over 26,000 food camps across the country.
The order also comes at a time when both the Centre and states plan to increasingly open more sectors in the economy for operation. Many states have said they would like to open the economy completely in green zones after May 3. The MSME sector, notably, is heavily dependent on migrant labourers. With workers heading home, several industrial sectors in cities could be negatively impacted.