'21-day lockdown triggers massive interstate migration of daily wagers, Raj govt steps in to help them'

Jodhpur, Mar 26 (PTI) With thousands of hapless daily-wagers trudging along desolate interstate highways on way back to their villages from various places outside the state, the Rajasthan government has begun receiving them and taking step to ferry them to their destinations after screening them for coronavirus infection.

The imposition of 21-day nationwide lockdown to break the coronavirus transmission chain has triggered large-scale influx of Rajasthan's labourers and workers from cities outside the state, including Gujarat, to which they had migrated for work, said state government officials.

The borders of Rajasthan's Jalore and Sirohi districts with Gujarat have been witnessing such large-scale, on-foot migration by labourers to their home from various places in the neighbouring state after the lockdown ever since March 24-25 midnight, said Jalore Superintndednt of police Himmat Abhilash Tak on Thursday.

“Most of these people are coming on foot and are labour class workers. They are dropped a few kilometers from the state borders, from where they begin to walk to the Rajasthan border,” said Tak.

The phenomena is not limited the two districts bordering Gujarat alone, but is spread over to Rajasthan's borders with other state's including Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh too, he added, quoting reports from the state's other parts.

Reports from other parts of the country too suggest the nationwide lockdown for 21 days has triggered large-scale interstate migration of labourers in other parts of the country too with several groups of such workers being seen returning in hordes to various cities in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar from Delhi, Haryana on foot. Tak said the Sirohi and other borders in Rajasthan were sealed till Wednesday but opened on the direction of the state government from Wednesday evening.

“Joint teams of police, administration and the medical and health department have set up camps at the border posts. They are being screened on reaching the boarder and their names and addresses along with the phone numbers are being noted down before letting them go to their destinations,” said Tak.

Tak said 700 persons entered the state on Wednesday evening and are counting but according to some estimates, 32,000 people have returned from other states till now.

Sirohi district too has been witnessing a large influx of people from Gujarat and other states for the past few days.

Abu Road and Mandar are two main check posts, where the people have assembled in large number, waiting to enter the district on way back to their homes.

Jalore District Collector Bhagwati Prasad said the flow of the people returning from other states was low till Wednesday but has recorded a spurt since Wednesday evening.

“Many of them are coming from buses and other vehicles and are being dropped at the border. We are screening them and recording their details. We have roped in roadways buses there, from which, we have been transporting them to their places,” said Prasad.

He, however, did not rule out the possibility of some people escaping the administration's radar but said that local public representatives like panches and sarpanchs have been asked to keep an people returning home and report their arrival to the administration instantly.

“Sirohi shares a 175-km border with Gujarat and most of its part is rocky. So there are the chances that many of those coming in private vehicles or on foot, avoid the entry from border posts and use alternative rural entries,” Prasad said.

Though, none of the districts have reported any positive case so far, the possibility cannot be ruled out in such a massive influx, if some corona-positive person too enter the districts. PTI CORR RAX RAX