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COVID19: MHA tells states to quarantine returning migrant labourers for 14 days

Representational picture

The Centre on Sunday ordered state governments to place the thousands of migrant workers who are heading home in state-run quarantine facilities for 14 days to ensure that they do not take the coronavirus disease home. Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Home Secretary , who held a meeting with top bureaucrats of states, said there had been movement of migrant workers in some parts of the country.

For the future, Gauba told the states to strictly enforce the lockdown and seal the borders. As for the migrant workers who are already on their way home, the Centre has ordered state governments to place all of them under government-run quarantine facilities so that they do not spread the coronavirus disease, or Covid-19.


“District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police would be held personally responsible for enforcement of directions issued to them under the Disaster Management Act,” a central government statement said.

People familiar with the developments said this warning was aimed at sending a clear message to DMs and SPs that the ball was in their court to set systems in place to ensure that the migrant workers were kept in isolation and to make arrangements for their stay and lodging for the quarantine period.

“Detailed instructions on monitoring of such persons during quarantine have been issued to states,” the statement said.

Migrant workers, many of them daily wage earners have lost work and means of sustenance, in cities. There have been reports from many parts of the country how some of them had marched back home in the absence of public transport. Yesterday, tens of thousands of them reached the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border in east Delhi after the Yogi Adityanath government made arrangements for their travel.

As images of thousands of workers crowding the bus stations were beamed on television through Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had even dialled Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to take steps. Kejriwal told the PM that he had appealed to them to stay back and promised to take care of their needs but it hadn’t worked.

The home ministry, simultaneously, asked all states and Union territories to take immediate steps to provide temporary accommodation, food, clothing and medical care to homeless people and migrant workers stranded due to the lockdown.

The states were also allowed to tap the State Disaster Response Fund to pay for temporary accommodation, food and medical care of the migrants during the three-week lockdown.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who focused on the challenges posed by the disease, did not directly mention the migrant workers but underscored that people should not be under any misconception that they had to adhere to the lockdown for someone else’s sake but their own.