Migrants Return, So Do the Challenges: A Year On, Bihar Fights to Keep Covid-19 At Bay

·2-min read

It's 1:30 am and the Patna Junction railway station is still buzzing with activity. A battery of administrative officials, doctors and paramedic staff are all eagerly waiting for the arrival of the Kurla Patna express from Mumbai.

The train is carrying a large number of migrant labourers who are all returning home because of the Covid situation in Maharashtra. The government is not taking chances this time. Everyone who is de-boarding from trains, either from Maharashtra or Kerala, is being thoroughly checked before being allowed to move on to their respective destinations.

Even at 2 am the team of health workers is maintaining its vigil, screening everyone who is the de-boarding at the station in Patna. CNN-News18 noticed that three people were already found positive within a span of 20 minutes and the screening process was still on, a scary situation indeed. Ram Madan, the additional district magistrate, deputed at the station confirmed that it's the trains coming from states like Maharashtra and Kerala that are primarily screened and it is humanly not possible to screen all trains coming from all destinations.

Talking to CNN-News18, Patna district magistrate Chandrashekhar Singh confirmed that more than 12,000 tests were conducted at the Patna and Danapur railway stations, and Patna airport. Out of this 232 cases were found positive. “We are screening all trains coming from Maharastra, whether they are terminating at Patna or passengers deboard in transit,” Singh said.

Bihar is once again facing a huge influx of migrant labourers especially from states which are Covid-19 hotbeds. According to official estimates, more than 10-15 thousand labourers and workers are returning to Bihar every day through various modes of transport. Though the Bihar government is keeping a vigil as far as the big stations like Patna are concerned, there is hardly any checking for those deboarding at smaller stations. Those travelling by road can simply slip into their village and be parked at their homes, even if they are Covid-19 carriers. This is once again a ticking time bomb Bihar is sitting upon.

“We have come back to our villages as the situation is getting grim in Maharastra. The biscuit factory where I worked, is working with 40 per cent strength only. I don’t want to get stuck if lockdown happens,” said Dipak, a factory worker who has just come back along with five others from his village.

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