19 May 2020
New Delhi: Witnessing chaos at railway stations and bus depots, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has directed the states and the union territories (UTs) to ensure proactive coordination with railways and transport department as well as dispel rumours and give clarity on train and bus departures.
In a communication to all the states and the UTs on Monday through an official order, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued the instructions to all Chief Secretaries and UT administration noting that fear of novel coronavirus or COVID-19 infection and apprehension of loss of livelihood are the main driving factors for the movement of stranded workers towards their homes.
In order to mitigate the distress of migrant workers, the communication stresses on a number of measures that need to be taken by the state governments, pro-actively in coordination with the Centre. Operation of more special trains by pro-active coordination between states and with the Ministry of Railways, increase in number of buses for transporting migrants, allowing entry of buses carrying migrants at inter-state border are among the measures suggested by the MHA.
"More clarity may be given about departure of trains, buses, as lack of clarity coupled with rumours caused unrest amongst the workers," the MHA communication mentions.
Arrangement of designated rest places, with adequate facilities for sanitation, food and healthcare, could be made by the States on routes where migrants are known to be already travelling on foot, the communication stresses. It emphasized that the district authorities should guide workers moving on foot to designated rest places, nearby bus terminals or railway stations by arranging transportation.
"Special attention may be given to the specific requirements of women, children and elderly amongst the migrant workers."
It is also advised that district authorities in the state should involve NGO representatives at rest places to alleviate the notion of long quarantine at rest places. Workers may also be encouraged to remain at places where they are and there should be enlisting of migrants with their addresses and contact numbers and it would be helpful in contact tracing in due course, the communication mentions.The communication reiterates that district authorities must ensure that no migrant worker has to resort to walking on roads or railway tracks to reach his or her destination.
"They (states and UTs) may request the Ministry of Railways for running trains, as per requirement," it said.
The communication was made a day after the MHA issued fresh guidelines for the nationwide guidelines which started on Monday with extension of two more weeks ending on May 31.