Srinagar: Amid raging coronavirus pandemic in Kashmir, around 11,000 non-local labourers have come back to the valley since July 14 even as the administration claims that they have sampled most of them for COVID-19.
On Sunday, a video of non-local labourers heading to Kashmir in a bus went viral on social media.
Asked if they have been tested for COVID-19, the labourers reply they have not.
The bus is seemingly halted somewhere on the Jammu-Srinagar highway.
One of the passengers says he is from Uttar Pradesh and hasn’t been tested for COVID-19. Many others ignore the question from the person shooting the video. Besides men, women and kids too can be seen travelling in the bus.
Asked about it, Labour Commissioner, Abdul Rashid War told The Kashmir Monitor that around 11,000 non-local labourers from different states have returned to the valley.
“They have been brought here to resume work on brick kilns. The rates of bricks have already touched the sky and if the work is not resumed there will be a shortage of bricks in the valley,” he said.
“We collect the details of the labourers and registration numbers of the buses in which they travel to Kashmir. The same details are forwarded to the deputy commissioner Anantnag who then proceeds with the sampling of these labourers at Lower Munda before allowing them to enter the valley,” War said.
Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, K K Sidha said: “Sampling of brick kiln labourers coming from other states to Kashmir started from July 14. We have collected 10,697 samples for COVID-19 tests so far. Six of them have tested positive till July 16. The result of the samples taken since July 17 are awaited.”
“Every day we receive a list of 60-70 buses and collect more than 2500 samples. Today we have seized three buses at Lower Munda which were not part of the list shared by the Labourer Commission. We have fined the brick kiln owner Rs 25000 and have also taken samples of these labourers for testing. The buses were coming from Jammu,” the DC said.
The labourers, he said, are being quarantined by respective district administrations as per the established SOPs.
He said that government has allowed restricted movement of labourers from Jammu to Kashmir. “I have also taken up the matter with the divisional commissioner Kashmir,” he added.