A day after the Union Home Ministry allowed inter-State travel of stranded labourers, tourists, students and pilgrims, the Maharashtra government on Thursday came up with guidelines to facilitate the movement.
It clarified, however, that no one will be allowed to leave or enter the State without a necessary letter from the appropriate State or district authority.
The government has appointed Dr. Nitin Kareer, additional chief secretary, Revenue, along with Izdes Kundan, principal secretary, Woman and Child Development Department, and Abhay Yavalkar, director of State Disaster Management Department, to coordinate the movement. All district collectors will be the designated nodal authority for receiving and sending stranded people between States/Union Territories and also within the State.
Any group coming into Maharashtra will have to strictly follow the 14-day quarantine period, which will be ensured by collectors/municipal commissioners. These people will be assessed by local health authorities and kept in home quarantine, unless they need to be institutionally quarantined.
The State guidelines have clarified that all who wish to travel will be screened and only those who do not show symptoms of influenza or COVID-19 shall be allowed to proceed. The letter given to them shall clearly mention that the people have been screened and are found to be asymptomatic. The vehicles being used or deployed to transport the people will bear a transit pass issued by the authority from the starting area. The pass given to them will be for a fixed route and with specific validity, and carry the names of the persons travelling.
‘Bandra one-off incident’
The Bombay High Court has said the gathering of over a thousand migrants outside Bandra station earlier this month was a one-off incident, and refused to pass urgent orders in a plea seeking deployment of adequate security personnel in the city.
A single Bench of Justice B.P. Colabawalla made the observation on April 27 while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) via videoconferencing filed by three residents of Bandra, Khar and Mahim. The petitioners said they were directly aggrieved by the April 14 incident and raised concern about the serious security lapse that led to the gathering in front of the station.
The petitioners said such gatherings would increase the chance of the spread of COVID-19. The plea said, “They [the petitioners] would be the first in line to be afflicted by the coronavirus once a spike is recorded which is directly attributable to the incident.”
The migrant workers had gathered outside the station demanding transport arrangements for them to return to their native places. The migrants were later dispersed and assured that they will be provided accommodation and food till the lockdown lasts.
The plea urged the court to pass directions “to the government to make an assessment for requesting the aid of the military to be deployed in such vulnerable and red zones in support of the authorities of a State”.
The PIL also sought “reports regarding the availability of Armed Forces, Central Reserve Police Force and State Reserve Police Force to be deployed in Mumbai should the need arise”.
Refusing to accept the petitioners’ argument that the Bandra incident demands urgent orders to be passed, The Bench said, “These are extraordinary times and the government and the civic authorities are doing their best to keep things under control. One incident does not make out an urgency and the court is sure that the government and the civic authorities will do whatever is necessary to ensure that an incident like the one that took place at Bandra will be avoided until the lockdown is effective.”
Rejecting the plea, Justice Colabawalla said, “I do not find any case is made out for urgent ad-interim relief. All these directions, and if required, can always be passed by the court when normal work resumes.”
(With inputs from Sonam Saigal)