MHA to states: Operate more special trains to transport migrants
The Ministry of Home Affairs Tuesday asked the states and the union territories to operate more special trains in coordination with the Indian Railways for transportation of migrant workers, adding that special attention should be given to women, children and elderly.
In an official letter, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla underlined that fear of Covid-19 infection and apprehension of loss of livelihood are the main driving factors for the movement of stranded workers towards their homes.
"In order to mitigate the distress of migrant workers, I would be grateful if the following measures could be implemented," he said in the letter.
Bhalla suggested that more special trains should be arranged in active coordination between the states and the Railways. He added that arrangement for resting places, taking into account requirement of sanitation, food and health, should be made. While asserting that more clarity is required regarding the departure of trains and buses, Bhalla said special attention may be given to the specific requirements of women, children and elderly amongst the migrant workers.
He asked district authorities to ensure that migrant workers moving on foot should be guided to designated rest places nearby bus terminals or railway stations by arranging transportation, enlisting the migrants with their addresses and contact numbers, which may be helpful in contact tracing in due course and involvement of NGO representatives at rest places etc, said Bhalla.
Meanwhile, testing of migrant workers returning to Bihar is underlining the twin challenge that public health experts have warned about — the virus is being carried in and many of the carriers are asymptomatic.
Until May 18, Bihar tested a total of 8,337 samples of migrant workers and about 8 per cent were found to be Covid-positive — double the national average positivity rate which is about 4 per cent.
Of the 835 samples taken from migrant workers who returned from Delhi, as many as 218 were Covid positive. This works out to a positivity rate of over 26 per cent, while the rate in the national capital is about 7 per cent.
Incidentally, the count of migrants tested from each state is not proportional to the total number who have returned from that state.
Yet, Delhi is an outlier along with Bengal and Haryana. Of the 265 samples of migrant workers who returned from West Bengal, 33 tested positive. The positivity rate was 12 per cent, while West Bengal's positivity rate is 3 per cent.
Of the 390 samples of migrant workers who returned from Haryana, 36 were found to be positive. The positivity rate was 9 per cent, while Haryana's positivity rate is 1.16 per cent.
The data emerging from Bihar is not only crucial for the state's containment strategy, but also for the national capital.
(Input and image from theindianexpress.com)
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