Nitish welcomes revised central guidelines on movement of stranded people

Patna, Apr 29 (PTI) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday thanked the centre for revising its guidelines whereby movement of people away from their homes during the ongoing lockdown has been allowed with certain conditions.

In a statement issued here, Kumar said revised guidelines will provide relief to students, tourists, pilgrims and migrant workers hailing from Bihar, who are stuck in far-off places across the country.

'We had made a request to this effect and we are glad that the centre has come up with a positive response,' the chief minister said referring to Monday's video conference in which he took part, along with counterparts of other states, and interacted with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It was, however, not clear whether the state which has been opposed in principle but not thwarted the return of people from other parts of the country would proceed to make arrangements for bringing them back en masse from places like Kota in Rajasthan, a coaching hub, which attracts a large number of medical and engineering aspirants.

So far, the Bihar government has held the view that the move by states like the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh to ferry migrants and students from places like Delhi and Kota could raise the risk of the spread of the contagion and defeat the very purpose of the lockdown.

In the video conference meet, Kumar had also urged that medical examination of travellers be ensured before they were allowed to leave their current place of stay, citing a large number of fresh COVID-19 in cases in Bihar, which have been traced to people coming from outside the state.

The centre seems to have taken note of the requests since the guidelines make it mandatory that travellers must be screened and allowed to undertake the journey only if found to be asymptomatic.

Moreover, upon arrival at their destination, such people would be required to be examined by local health authorities and kept in home quarantine 'unless the assessment requires keeping the person in institutional quarantine'.

Meanwhile, leader of the opposition in the state assembly Tejashwi Yadav came out with a video message saying 'the central guidelines have now left the state government with no excuses'.

'By its own admission, the state government claims to have reached out with help to 25 lakh people, including migrant workers and students, from Bihar,' he said.

Although the actual number of people affected by the lockdown could be even higher, the state government now must immediately make arrangements for the return of the 2.5 million whom it has acknowledged, the RJD leader said.

'Care must also be taken to ensure that the returnees, upon reaching Bihar, were not casually dumped like insentient objects. The state must develop the infrastructure that would be required for their quarantining and, if required, medical examination and treatment', said Yadav, who was Kumar's deputy in the Grand Alliance government. PTI NAC SNS RHL