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288 migrant workers on their way to Ganjam from Surat by five buses

All the workers were employed in textile mills in Surat, now closed due to the lockdown.

All the workers were employed in textile mills in Surat, now closed due to the lockdown.  

Surat administration gives special permission but does not follow necessary protocol.

Five buses with 288 Odia migrant labourers from Surat in Gujarat are on their way to Odisha’s Ganjam district despite the continuing lockout.

 

They have been given special permission by Surat district administration to travel to their home district by buses, said Pitambar Pradhan, an Odia lawyer, also president of Parprantiya Kamdar Sena (PKS) and Sramik Seva Sangh (SSS) in Surat.

All the workers were employed in textile mills in Surat, now closed due to the lockdown. They belong to the Kavisuryanagar and Dharakote blocks of Ganjam district.

Workers pay

The buses started from Surat on Monday. According to sources, they may reach Ganjam on Wednesday. Each of the 288 migrant labourers has paid about ₹3,500 rupees as contribution to hire private buses for the long journey.

State-wise tracker for COVID-19 cases, deaths and testing, and a map of confirmed cases in India

Mr. Pradhan was critical of the Surat district administration for allowing them to leave for Odisha during the lockdown, which continues till May 3. No medical check-ups were conducted for the workers before they boarded the buses.

Four of the buses carried 57 passengers each, while the fifth bus had 60 migrant workers, said Mr. Pradhan. Social distancing protocol has been neglected for the journey. Photos uploaded by the passengers hint that all of them are sitting too close to each other in the buses.

Risk of contagion

“No one knows if any traveller in these buses is infected by COVID-19 or not. In case only one of them is infected, then all others in a bus will surely get infected. Such a bus journey that threatens health of migrant workers should not have been allowed,” said Niranjan Mohapatra, an Odia migrant worker and labour activist in Surat.

All about COVID-19

According to sources, Odia migrant workers had hired some more buses for their return to Ganjam, but the Surat administration did not allow them to start the journey on Tuesday.

PKS and SSS demanded the Central government as well as State governments of Gujarat and Odisha make arrangements so that stranded Odia migrant workers in Surat can return keeping safe social distance rules at no cost to them. “More than 1.5 lakh migrant workers in Surat want to return to Odisha, especially Ganjam district. Trains, and not buses as suggested by the Odisha government, are the only way out,” said Mr. Mohapatra.

Preparing quarantine

As they are returning from Surat, where coronavirus (COVID-19) infections are on the rise, the Ganjam district administration is organising precautionary measures to receive them.

According to Ganjam District Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange, the workers will be sent into quarantine immediately on reaching the district. The buses will be received at the Haldiapadar bus stand on outskirts of Berhampur, where medical check-ups will be conducted, after which they would be sent to their respective panchayat areas to remain in quarantine. Swabs of persons with symptoms of COVID-19 will be collected for testing.

Quarantine centres have also been set up at villages awaiting the arrival of migrant workers after the end of lockdown. The Berhampur Municipal Corporation (BeMC) has requisitioned hostels of 27 educational institutions to be used as temporary medical camps for those returning from other States.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 12:56:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/288-migrant-workers-on-their-way-to-ganjam-from-surat-by-five-buses/article31457098.ece

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