New Delhi: The Modi government Sunday directed states to ensure there is no movement of people across cities or on highways during the 21-day Covid-19 lockdown.
Those found in violation of the lockdown conditions will have to spend a minimum of 14 days in quarantine, the government said in a press release.
“We have issued detailed instructions on monitoring of such persons during quarantine… It was impressed upon all the states that three weeks of strict enforcement is essential to contain the spread of coronavirus,” a government official told ThePrint.
The order came as the central government faces criticism for the massive exodus of migrants from cities, triggered by the absence of accommodation and job opportunities amid the lockdown.
Even though the government has asked states to ensure migrants and students are properly provided for during the lockdown, thousands have set off on foot for their hometowns, casting a cloud over the efficacy of the attempt to contain the pandemic.
After a high-level meeting chaired by cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba Sunday, the government issued fresh directions that district and state borders be effectively sealed and opened only for goods movement.
“District magistrates and superintendents of police in the respective states will be made personally responsible for implementation of these directions which have been issued under the Disaster Management Act,” the government official said.
‘Migrant labourers should be paid their wages’
Restrictions imposed to check the spread of coronavirus infection include the suspension of train and bus services, which sparked the ongoing exodus on foot.
Amid fears that the huge crowds moving on highways could lead to a surge in Covid-19 infection, the Uttar Pradesh government Saturday arranged 1,000 buses to ferry labourers stranded in Delhi and the NCR regions of Noida and Ghaziabad to their hometowns.
This arrangement led to large crowds at bus terminals as migrants arrived in droves. This crowd and the packed buses again constituted an infection hazard.
To address the concerns of migrant labourers who feel stranded, the central government also issued orders Saturday that states and union territories could use the State Disaster Relief Fund – a corpus of Rs 29,000 crore – for providing relief to the migrant labourers.
States have also been told to ensure timely payment of wages to labourers at their place of work during the period of lockdown without any cuts.
The official said states and union territories had been further directed to make arrangements for migrant labourers so they don’t feel compelled to leave.
“It has been advised that adequate arrangements for food and shelter of poor and needy people including migrant labourers be made at the place of their work,” the government statement says.