Scattered migrant evacuation plans turn into organised effort | India News – Times of India

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Scattered initiatives to evacuate migrant workers, students and pilgrims stranded across the country on Sunday coalesced into a more coordinated action plan initiated by states like Odisha, Maharashtra and Gujarat even as Karnataka signalled its reluctance to jump right in, flagging the “risk” of immediately bringing back people stuck in Covid-endemic states as a “national issue”.
While Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik engaged with counterparts Uddhav Thackeray in Maharashtra and Vijay Rupani in Gujarat to work out a “safe and dignified exit plan” for migrant workers from his state, Karnataka said it would temporarily restrict itself to evacuating a batch of 272 students stuck in Rajasthan’s Kota.
“We are trying to ascertain the whereabouts of migrant labourers stranded across the nation. Considering the high number of Covid-19 cases in our bordering states, whether to ferry them back or not is a big concern. We continue to deliberate on the matter and will discuss this tomorrow with the chief minister. It is a national issue,” Karnataka labour minister Shivram Hebbar told TOI even as pressure mounted from the opposition to start evacuating the state’s stranded two lakh-strong migrant workforce like several states have already done.
Odisha’s strategy for evacuation of migrant workers from various states includes compulsory registration of each potential returnee through a web portal. The dates for their return will be decided after the completion of the registration process. Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan was part of both video conferences that CM Patnaik had with his Maharashtra and Gujarat counterparts.
The state government might next hold discussions with Delhi, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to pave the way for the return of migrant workers stuck in those states, sources said.
Nearly 9,800 migrant workers returned to UP by bus from Haryana on Sunday, taking the number of stranded people ferried back over the past 24 hours to nearly 12,000. UP CM Yogi Adityanath asked officials to focus on generating employment for an estimated 15 lakh migrant workers who could return over the next few weeks. “The government is committed to ensuring that no labourer is left jobless because of the lockdown. We are keeping a close watch and acting accordingly,” he said after a meeting with 11 senior bureaucrats at his official residence.
In Mumbai, CM Thackeray said all migrant workers stuck in Maharashtra would be sent to their respective states soon. “We are in touch with the chief ministers of other states such as UP and Bihar, besides the Centre. We will sort out this issue and send these workers back to their states as early as possible.”
Wary of the Bandra station fiasco being repeated, Thackeray clarified that there would be no train ride back home for migrant workers. “One thing is clear. There is no scope for running trains to take you home as it will create chaos. Everyone will be informed when and how the shifting will happen. Migrants from Maharashtra working in other states will be brought back, too,” he said.
Rajasthan has set up a helpline – 18001806127 – for its migrant workers in other states to register their location and other details so that the government can arrange for their safe return. Apart from the helpline that will open on Monday, people wanting to return home can register their details on the “rajcovidinfo” app.
Officials said that once they have verified data on migrant workers at each location, buses can be arranged to get them back. All returnees will be medically screened before the journey and quarantined for 14 days on arrival in their home districts. The Jaisalmer administration is scheduled to send 12,000 farm labourers from MP and Punjab stranded in the district back to their states by bus on Monday morning, officials said. Around 300 buses are lined up to take them home.
A batch of 376 students from J&K will set off from Kota around the same time. “All arrangements finalised. This follows the recent return of students and others who were in Jaisalmer and other places. Appeal: Please be patient. Govt is working hard to facilitate all,” principal secretary Rohit Kansal said in a tweet on Sunday.
Around 12 students from Jharkhand who had been stuck in Kota for a month returned to their hometown Jamshedpur late on Saturday. The students had booked three taxis after Jamshedpur East MLA Saryu Rai helped them procure transit passes.
In Maharashtra, 3,500-odd Sikh pilgrims stranded at Nanded after visiting the Gurdwara Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib will board 80 buses sent by the Punjab government along with police escort. The fleet reached Nanded late on Sunday. Ravinder Singh Modi, a senior gurdwara functionary, said the return journey would take four days. Some pilgrims from places like Kurukshetra in Haryana are being sent back by car. The first group of pilgrims has already reached their destinations in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Delhi.

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