Workers self-isolate after ‘overcrowded’ facility turns them away

Tired of mismanagement and overcrowding at state run quarantine centers in Gaya, Bihar, forty workers after returning from Haryana have made their own isolation center in Pichulia village. For the past 9 days, they are holed up in ITI building and are at the mercy of villagers who have helped them in making this arrangement. Rendered jobless by existing lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic, they hired a private vehicle from Haryana and reached their respective villages only to be turned away by the villagers. They proceeded to two quarantine facilities in Gaya but were turned away as both of them were overcrowded and mismanaged. Yogender Yadav, one of the labourers sad, “There was no space in any of those shelters and neither any facilities for testing. They turned us away so we decided to return to our village and stay in isolation by ourselves.”

They were helped by the villagers in making arrangements for staying together without having any contact with the village population. The villagers have been providing them with ration and other supplies. For the last 9 days the center is being run by the labourers themselves but not a single government official has paid a visit to take stock of the situation there. Another worker added that they had booked a private vehicle to return but were dumped midway by the driver and had no option but to walk to their village. When contacted the DDC of Gaya Kishore Chaudhary said, “The BDO of the area has been instructed to shift them to a quarantine center. We have enough space in the quarantine centers. But these people want to stay close to their village.” Bihar presently has over 4,163 quarantine centers and approximately 1.61 lakh people are staying in these centers. Multiple reports of mismanagement have surfaced from these centers with people fleeing due to lack of food and other facilities. The testing and screening of these 40 workers still remains to be done.

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