Coronavirus lockdown | Jharkhand flies its migrant workers back from Leh

Migrant workers flew to Delhi from Leh on a SpiceJet aircraft and would take an IndiGo flight from Delhi to Ranchi.

Published - May 29, 2020 06:37 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

The Jharkhand government on Friday arranged to have 60 migrant workers stranded in Leh flown back to Ranchi, making it the first State to use flights to help its stranded citizens return home during the lockdown in the wake of the Supreme Court’s order.

“All our 60 migrant workers flew down to Delhi from Leh and they would undertake further air journey from New Delhi to Ranchi,” said an official at Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s office, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “They would travel to Dumka district from Ranchi by road,” he added. In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that migrants be provided free travel to their homes, the mineral-rich State acted swiftly to bring some of its stranded workers back.

The workers from Jharkhand had been stranded in the Batalik - Kargil sector, where they were working on a Border Roads Organisation (BRO) project. Using Twitter, they had on May 10 urged the Chief Minister to assist them in returning home.

According to the official at the Chief Minister’s office, Mr. Soren had urged the administration of the Union Territory of Ladakh to provide assistance while the State Control Room got in touch with the workers and got them registered on the State’s portal.

On May 12, Jharkhand’s Chief Secretary wrote a letter to the Union Home Secretary seeking permission to allow the State government to bring back stranded workers from Andaman and Nicobar, Ladakh and the northeastern States using chartered flights at its own expense.

When the Centre did not respond to the request, Mr. Soren personally wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah for permission. The Jharkhand government alleged that the Centre had not even acknowledged the letter.

After commercial airline services resumed, the Jharkhand administration appointed a small team to examine the operational possibilities for ensuring the safe return of the 60 migrant workers.

With active support from the BRO, all 60 workers were transported by the BRO to Leh and put up in a transit camp. They flew to Delhi from Leh on a SpiceJet aircraft and would take an IndiGo flight from Delhi to Ranchi. The whole journey by air cost Jharkhand about ₹8 lakh. As of now 4.5 lakh of 8 lakh registered workers have returned to Jharkhand.

Mr. Soren has directed officials to fly back Jharkhand’s stranded workers from the Andamans and northeastern States as well. The official at the Chief Minister’s office said that once flight operations from the Andamans resume, the return of 320 workers from Port Blair would be taken up.

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