AGENCIES, New Delhi: Migrant labourers, students, pilgrims or tourists who do not have symptoms of coronavirus can return to their home states now, the Centre has said, issuing a set of guidelines nearly five weeks after the announcement of the countrywide lockdown that left thousands stranded.
The order comes a day after the Centre was asked to respond to the issue by the Supreme Court, which was hearing a set of petitions asking that migrant labourers who do not have COVID-19 be allowed to go home. The Centre has already allowed Uttar Pradesh to ferry back its migrants from Haryana, a move that led states like Bihar and Jharkhand to question its lockdown guidelines that that froze road, rail and air transport and asked states not to allow homebound migrants laboures across their borders.
In its order, the Union home ministry asked states to appoint nodal bodies and draw up protocols for the movement of stranded people. “The moving person(s) would be screened and those found asymptomatic would be allowed to proceed,” the government said.
After arriving at their destination, they will have to stay in home quarantine for 14 days, unless institutional quarantine is advised, the order said.
Buses will be allowed for the interstate movement of the people and they should be sanitised between trips, the order read. The rules of social distancing should be maintained in the seating arrangements.
Government allows movement of migrant workers, tourists, students etc. stranded at various places, subject to the consultations & mutual agreement between the concerned States/UTs while adhering to health/safety protocols#IndiaFightsCorona
— PIB India #StayHome #StaySafe (@PIB_India) April 29, 2020
The order comes less than a week before the lockdown is scheduled to end. On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a fourth video-conference with chief ministers of around 10 states, where an exit plan from the lockdown was discussed. Several states, including Punjab and Bengal, have however said they need to extend the lockdown in view of the coronavirus situation.
Sources said the decision to allow stranded people to go home came after pressure from within the BJP. There were concerns that the migrant crisis could damage the party politically and feedback to this effect was given to party chief J.P. Nadda during a virtual meeting with MPs and MLAs.