Over 6.75 Lakh Migrant Workers Have Received Shelter in Homes Set up by States: Home Ministry

New Delhi: Over 6.75 lakh migrant workers have received shelter in 21,486 homes set up by states and union territories to contain their movement during the countrywide lockdown announced to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Home Ministry said Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference, Joint Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava said over 25 lakh migrant workers who were rushing home were provided with food at the relief camps.

She said the cabinet secretary on Wednesday told the chief secretaries of states and union territories to ensure "hassle free" transportation of cargo and directed that these instructions should be transmitted to the ground level.

The cabinet secretary also directed the chief secretaries that disbursement of benefits under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna should be quick and effective, the officer said.

Since the disbursement of benefits is done through banks, planning should be "meticulous" and social distancing norms should be strictly adhered to, she said.

The officer said the supply of essential items during 21-day lockdown announced by the prime minister was satisfactory.

On the issue of migrant workers who left cities in droves after announcement of the lockdown, Srivastava said the states and union territories were making arrangements for them with 21,486 shelters set up in which 6.75 lakh workers are living and 25 lakh were provided food.

She said that in conformity with the Supreme Court order on migrant workers, states and union territories have been asked to rope in trained counsellors and community group leaders to counsel migrant workers stranded in shelter camps.

"We will ensure that the lockdown is successful and essential services are maintained," she said.

A nationwide 21-day lockdown was enforced on March 24 to check the spread of coronavirus as social distancing is possibly the only way to prevent people from infecting the deadly virus.

The number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 1,637 in the country on Wednesday while the death toll rose to 38, according to the Union Health Ministry.