The issue of the movement of migrant labourers, which has been a major bone of contention for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has finally been resolved. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday issued a notification allowing the movement of stranded people, including migrant labourers, with certain conditions. Nitish Kumar has been under a lot of flak for not doing enough to ensure the return of Bihari labourers and students stranded in other states. He was particularly targeted when other states led by Uttar Pradesh acted proactively in getting their people back into the state.
The MHA notice states that all states should designate nodal authorities and develop standard protocols for receiving and sending such stranded persons. These nodal authorities shall register stranded persons within their states or union territories. In case a group of stranded persons wish to move between one state and another, the sending and receiving state may consult each other and mutually agree to the movement by road. The notice, however, makes it very clear that the moving persons would be screened and only those found to asymptomatic will be allowed to proceed. Apart from this, busses will be used for this movement and it should be properly sanitised and will follow social distancing norms in seating. The states/ UTs falling on the transit route will allow the passage of such persons to the receiving state.
The MHA order makes it clear that once the stranded people reach their respective states, they will be assessed by local authorities and kept in home quarantine, unless the assessment requires them to be sent to hospital. They should be encouraged to use the Aarogya Setu app and kept under watch with periodic health checkups, it says. According to a report, this decision by the MHA will help around 10 lakh labourers, students, tourists, etc, stranded in different states after the lockdown was imposed last month to fight Covid-19. A uniform national policy regarding the movement of migrant labourers and stranded students was one of the key issues raised by several chief ministers at the recent interactions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.