THE Centre has asked State Governments to take steps to prevent a mass exodus of migrant workers in the wake of the national lockdown even as they gathered in thousands in Ghazipur on the Delhi border on Friday desperate to reach their hometowns in adjoining Uttar Pradesh.
The 21-day lockdown imposed from Tuesday midnight in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus has triggered a mass exodus of migrant workers from cities in several states to their villages raising concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak could turn into a humanitarian crisis. Union Home Minister Amit Shah also spoke to some of the Chief Ministers and asked them to look into the issue of the mass exodus.
As Central and State authorities worked on ways to ease the hardships faced by migrant workers, who stare at loss of livelihood, trudging long distances, steps were also being taken to fix the bottlenecks in the movement of essential supplies. The migrant workers who were gathered at Ghazipur were sent to the UP side of the border by police in batches and they appeared prepared to walk long distances in case no help was forthcoming to ferry them in public transport.
Around 40 migrant labourers working in Mumbai were also caught in adjoining Thane for allegedly trying to escape in a truck to Uttar Pradesh.
In an advisory, the Union Home Ministry asked the State Governments to prevent a mass exodus of migrant agriculture labourers, industrial workers and unorganised sector employees from their workplaces to hometowns . The advisory to all the States and Union Territories said they should also make arrangements for uninterrupted supply of essential commodities to hotels, working women hostels so that they continue to live in existing facilities.
“The home ministry has issued an advisory to States/UTs to prevent mass exodus of migrant agricultural labourers, industrial workers and unorganised sector workers, so as to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” an official spokesperson said.