Coronavirus: Centre tells States to set up camps for migrant workers


As lakhs of migrant labourers and workers continued to travel on foot to reach their homes in wake of the 21-day countrywide lockdown, the Union Home Ministry has asked the States to “immediately set up relief camps” along the highways and conduct regular medical checks while observing proper social distancing norms, reported The Hindu.

Non Local workers with walk-on Srinagar highway during restrictions. KL Image by Malik Kaiser

According to report, the Ministry also issued an order authorising the States to use State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) to provide “for temporary accommodation, food, clothing, medical care, etc.” to homeless people, including the stranded migrant labourers.

The SDRF is the primary fund available with the State governments for responses to notified disasters to meet the expenditure for providing immediate relief.

The Centre contributes 75% of the SDRF allocation for general category States and Union Territories and 90% for special category States (northeastern States, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir).

In an order issued on March 14, the Ministry said it had decided to treat COVID-19 as a “notified disaster”. The SDRF has an allocation of around Rs 29,000 crore for the next fiscal.

The Ministry said in a statement that Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday reviewed the country’s preparedness to contain the spread of COVID-19. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to the States requesting them to immediately set up relief camps for migrant workers and pilgrims who are trying to return to their domicile States.

“States have been advised to give wide publicity and awareness, using public address systems, technology and by utilising the services of volunteers and NGOs, to give precise information on the location of the relief camps and the facilities being made available and relief package under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana and measures being taken by the State Government,” the Ministry said.

The States have been advised to set up relief camps along highways including setting up of tented accommodation to ensure that these persons will stay in the relief camps.

“The shelters are to be organised, keeping in view various precautions including social distancing, with adequate medical check-up drives to identify and separate cases requiring quarantine or hospitalisation,” newspaper The Hindu quoted MHA as having said.


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