Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot today called on the centre to devise a comprehensive and unified plan for the “smooth movement of migrant workers stranded across the country”. In a series of five tweets, Mr Gehlot asked the centre to come up with a “planned strategy with a unified command structure… to facilitate movement of students and migrant workers”.
Mr Gehlot’s comments come a day after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said his government would arrange buses to bring back migrant workers from the state stranded in other parts of the country.
“Since day one I have been saying a strategy must be devised for the smooth movement of migrant workers stranded across the country… unfortunately there is no clarity on the same,” Mr Gehlot said.
“Planned strategy, unified command structure can be more fruitful than unofficial communication to states by offices like Home Ministry and Cabinet secretariat to facilitate movement of students and migrants,” he added.
Lakhs of migrant workers, daily labourers and students were left stranded after last month’s lockdown to break the COVID-19 chain of transmission. Many were forced to walk hundreds, often thousands of kilometres, home amid the shutdown of public transportation, triggering a humanitarian crisis.
Last month, as the crisis threatened to spiral out of control with thousands of migrants descending on an interstate bus terminus in Delhi, the centre allowed states to run public buses to bring them back home.
Shortly after, the centre directed states to seal borders and encourage migrants to stay where they were by offering them food and shelter.
Despite the centre’s directive the migrant exodus has continued to make headlines, with thousands defying the lockdown to converge outside Bandra Railway Station in Mumbai, after rumours of special trains to take them home.
The centre, which has come under criticism for its handling of the exodus and has been accused of improper planning in the implementation of the lockdown, has not yet come up with a plan to allow migrants to return home.
It has, however, allowed a limited reopening of shops in neighbourhoods and residential areas, more than a month after the nation went into a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Late on Friday, the Home Ministry said retail shops (kirana stores) could start operations with the staff number reduced by 50 per cent, while also requiring appropriate social distancing, wearing of masks and gloves during work. The sale of liquor and other non-essential items will continue to be prohibited, and no shops in large market places, multi-brand and single-brand malls will be allowed to open.