A month after millions of people, mostly migrant workers were stranded without work in different parts of the country, the Union home ministry on Wednesday finally allowed states to repatriate them to their respective states.
According to data collected by state governments, close to five million workers would have to be brought back to their respective states.
The central government has, however, so far refused to run special trains to take them home as demanded by some states such as Maharashtra.
They would have to travel in buses.
The only condition that the home ministry has imposed on the travel of these people is that the government of states, from where these people begin the journey and the government in the destination state, should clear the travel.
Besides, only people who do not have symptoms of Covid-19 would be allowed to travel. They would be subject to health check ups by health authorities of states which they cross.
Several states such as Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh had already started bringing back people from their states home though the central guidelines till this evening did not permit such travel. This had put chief ministers of states such as Bihar under immense pressure.
Nitish Kumar, who has been battered by the opposition in his state for sticking to the rulebook, had insisted that he would not take any step that violated the central guidelines and had asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order the home ministry to set the ground rules for this trip. Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik had made the same request at last week’s interaction of chief ministers with PM Modi.
It will be a mammoth task working out the logistics of arranging thousands of buses to carry five million workers.
On arrival at their destination, “such persons would be assessed by the local health authorities, and kept in home quarantine, unless the assessment requires keeping the persons in institutional quarantine. They would be kept under watch with periodic health check-ups. for this purpose, such persons may be encouraged to use Aarogya Setu app through which their health status can be monitored,” the home ministry’s guidelines said.