Miles to go…
New Delhi: India is experiencing a 21-day lockdown currently. But vast stretches of the country are brimming with migrant labourers who are trying to walk back home, covering miles and miles of distance, amid fear of infection with COVID-19.
Hundreds and thousands of workers are in a sordid movement, determining their struggle for existence, walking for days and nights together across vast stretches, many with children or with elderly relatives; without food, water or medicines, clutching whatever little they have to their hearts.
Taking note of such a pathetic state of affairs, the Union Home Ministry on Friday has asked state governments to prevent a mass exodus of migrant agriculture labourers, industrial workers and unorganised sector employees from their workplaces to hometowns amid the nationwide lockdown.
By Friday 7:30 pm, the number of positive COVID-19 cases reported in India stood at 820, while 66 people either cured or discharged and one had migrated. The number of deaths climbed to 20.
In an advisory to all states and Union Territories, the Union Home ministry said they should also make arrangements for uninterrupted supply of essential commodities to hotels, working women hostels so that they continue to live in existing facilities.
"The Home ministry has issued an advisory to States/UTs to prevent the mass exodus of migrant agricultural labourers, industrial workers and unorganised sector workers, so as to prevent the spread of COVID-19," an official spokesperson said.
The states and UTs have also been advised to make these vulnerable groups aware of measures taken by the government.
The Union Home ministry has also advised the states and UTs to ensure that hotels, rented accommodations, hostels etc., continue to remain functional and delivery of essential items is streamlined, so that students, working women hostel inmates etc., are allowed to continue in existing facilities observing precautions. Leaders across parties have appealed for the rescue of those who are stuck in transits. Congress Chairperson Sonia Gandhi wrote to the Prime Minister on Friday for a national advisory, roping in district Collectors to extend support to the stranded and also one-time transport services for those who are stuck in lodges, guesthouses.
As the COVID-19 crisis dramatically intensified earlier this month and it became clear that Indian airspace could go into lockdown at any time, India's rich rushed to hire luxury private jets to fly children studying abroad back home.
Over two weeks before inbound commercial flights were stopped by the government on March 21, as many as 102 private charter flights ferried children home from their universities in the United Kingdom and Europe, mostly France, Germany and Switzerland.
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