New Delhi: In a major relief, migrant workers, tourists, students and other people stranded in different parts of the country were on Wednesday allowed by the Centre to return to their respective destinations 36 days after the nationwide lockdown was imposed.
The order comes a day after the Centre was asked to respond to the issue by the Supreme Court, which was hearing a set of petitions asking that migrant labourers who do not have Covid-19 be allowed to go home.
To facilitate the return of the lakhs of people stranded, the home ministry amended the consolidated guidelines issued for the lockdown four days before it is set to get over.
“Due to lockdown, migrant workers, pilgrims, students and other persons are stranded at different places. They would be allowed to move,” union home secretary's order said.
Outlining the protocol for such movement, the MHA said that states and union Territories should designate nodal authorities and develop an SOP (standard operating procedure) for receiving and sending stranded people.
The nodal authority will register such people who want to move. “In case a group of stranded persons wish to move between one state/UT and another state/UT, the sending and receiving states must consult each other and mutually agree to the movement by road,” the order said.
The Centre has asked state governments to screen people who are moving and allow only asymptomatic persons to move. Onus has been put on states to arrange buses for groups. Buses will have to be sanitised and social distancing norms maintained. Once the travellers reach their destination, the authorities will screen and decide on home or institutional quarantine.
MHA officials, however, clarified that on ground things will be decided by the state governments who are expected to come up with notifications appointing a nodal authority and also a clear procedure.
When asked how people in their own vehicle will avail of this relaxation, MHA officials said this too state governments will have to decide. “If two states mutually agree to allow a person to travel in his/her own vehicle then Centre has no objection after these amendments.".
The officer said that states will have to come up with a screening protocol for movement in private vehicles.
State governments in their video conferencing with the Prime Minister had pushed for a uniform policy on bringing migrants back home. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had also objected to some states being permitted to bring back students from Kota in violation of the MHA guidelines.