COVID-19: Maharashtra tells collectors to get cracking on evacuation plan

Updated: May 01, 2020, 08:16 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Officers prepare to transport at least two lakh migrants from Maharashtra to their respective homes after thoroughly screening them

At least 70 buses have already left Maharashtra to get back stranded students in Kota, Rajasthan. File pic
At least 70 buses have already left Maharashtra to get back stranded students in Kota, Rajasthan. File pic

A day after the Ministry of Home Affairs issued orders to facilitate the transportation of people stranded due to the lockdown between states by road, the Maharashtra government has told district collectors to execute the evacuation plan. Three senior Mantralaya bureaucrats will supervise the mass exercise that is expected to kick-start from May 4.

Other than the state-arranged facility, people who want to travel to their home states have been allowed to hire transport or use their own vehicles.

BUT every person will have to register with the government, procure documents for the same and undergo mandatory medical assessment before moving out. People could travel in groups but not without adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. Persons with COVID-19-like symptoms will not be allowed to travel but sent to quarantine and treatment. People who don't produce fitness certificates will not be allowed to travel.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray instructed the administration to take utmost care in implementing the plan, because a couple of lakh people are expected to be moved between far-flung places. The CM has repeatedly asked the Centre to operate special trains to transport migrant workers and might reiterate the appeal once the extended lockdown is lifted in some places, and relaxed in some places barring red zones.

Thackeray deputed Additional Chief Secretary (revenue) Dr Nitin Karir, Principal Secretary (woman and child welfare) I S Kundan and Director of State Disaster Management Abhay Yavalkar, to supervise the travel plan in which stranded people from Maharashtra will also be brought back home from other states. Other than district collectors, Yavalkar has also been authorised to issue travel permits. Many district collectors have the data of migrant workers who were stopped at inter-district borders. The workers are staying in state-provided shelters where they get food and medical care. The unconfirmed number of stranded migrants in Maharashtra is over 6 lakh and at least half of these are willing to go home. However, the number of migrants going out of Maharashtra will be much higher than the people coming here from other states.

Buses ready for transportation

Sources said the Maharashtra government was in talks with other states to make the arrangements and share the enormous cost of travel. The cost issue will factor as Maharashtra will deploy some buses to transport people where Maharashtrians are not stranded.

Stranded students from Kota maintain social distance as they walk out of a bus depot upon their arrival in Ahmedabad on April 23. PIC/PTI
Stranded students from Kota maintain social distance as they walk out of a bus depot upon their arrival in Ahmedabad on April 23. Pic/ PTI

The state transport company has readied over 10,000 buses to be sent to hundreds of destinations. These buses will take migrants from Maharashtra to other states and ferry Maharashtrians back. The process is expected to take some time, so people who make arrangements on their own, might get through earlier than the people who depend solely on the home state's support.

What the stranded should do

  • Contact your district collector’s office to register passenger names/residential address/phone numbers, vehicle (if you have it or hired one), travel route and expected travel time so that you are given transit passes and your names are forwarded to your home states for cross-checking on arrival.
  • You may also contact the State Disaster Management Cell @ 022-22027990, 022-22023039 and E-mail to controlroom@maharashtra.gov.in
  • The vehicles must be sanitised and passengers seated in accordance with social distancing norms
  • You will undergo a mandatory 14-day home quarantine. You will be sent to institutional quarantine if symptoms show.
  • You will be compulsorily asked to download Arogya Setu mobile app in order to facilitate tracking of your health and movement in quarantine

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