At Least 4,000 Stranded Andhra Fishermen Leave Gujarat in Buses Amid Covid-19 Lockdown

At least 4,000 fishermen from Andhra Pradesh, who were stranded in Gujarat amid the COVID-19 lockdown, were sent back home in 60-odd private buses from Veraval in Gir-Somnath district, an official said on Wednesday.

The state government has also arranged for buses to ferry migrant workers of neighbouring states who were stranded in different parts Gujarat, he said.

Following talks with the Andhra Pradesh government, the state government hired around 60 private buses to ferry 4,000 Andhra fishermen to Visakhapatnam from Veraval, said Manish Bharadwaj, secretary of the Animal Husbandry and Fisheries department.

"These buses started their journey from Veraval on Monday evening and the last bus set off on Wednesday morning. The fishermen will reach Visakhapatnam after two days on the road," he said.

Migrant fishermen from Andhra Pradeshwork for boat owners in Gujarat and spend around 10 months in the state, the official said.

"Earlier, we had allowed fishermen from Maharashtra and Daman to return by sea. However, it would take five days to reach Visakhapatnam by sea and we would have also needed large trawlers. Which is why we decided to hire buses and transport them by road," Bhardwaj said.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat government has so far ferried 4,500 stranded migrants in buses to Rajasthan, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, additional chief secretary (labour and employment) Vipul Mitra said.

Far away states including Uttar Pradesh will have to send their own buses to take back migrant workers, he added.