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Return of thousands of migrant workers to Ganjam increases fears of contagion

Migrant workers who returned to Ganjam district undergoing thermal scanning before their entry to quarantine centres, 05/05/2020

Migrant workers who returned to Ganjam district undergoing thermal scanning before their entry to quarantine centres, 05/05/2020   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Three persons have tested positive in the district and all of them have links to Surat

The continuing inflow of thousands of migrant workers from outside the State to Odisha’s Ganjam district has increased fears that it may become a hotbed for the spread of COVID-19 in the coming days.

Ganjam was a green zone till the start of the mass return of migrant workers to the district. Since May 3, three persons have tested positive in Ganjam district and all of them have links to Surat. Till a few days ago, over 2 lakh persons from outside Odisha had registered to return to Ganjam district.

Ganjam Superintendent of Police (SP) Brijesh Kumar Ray on Tuesday informed media that at present around 17,000 persons were under quarantine in the Ganjam police district. The Ganjam revenue district comprises of two police districts — Ganjam and Berhampur.

The population in the quarantine centres has increased with arrival of the returnees by buses and special trains. Most of the people in quarantine are reported to be migrant workers back from Surat.

Also read: 1,150 migrant workers reach Odisha’s Ganjam district from Kerala

Realising gravity of the situation, the Odisha government deputed five Deputy Secretary-rank Odisha Administrative Service (OAS) officers to Ganjam district to assist the local administration.

Strict action

The Ganjam administration and police have warned of strict action against anyone seen breaking quarantine rules or in the case of unruly scenes. Violators will face strict legal action and quarantine outside the district. Any family trying to hide returnees from outside the State will also face legal action.

Also read: Migrant workers who came back from gujarat skip quarantine in odisha

On Tuesday, three persons were injured in a violent clash between two groups of returnees from Surat in a quarantine centre set up at the Jamagorada Adarsh Vidyalaya in the Jagannathprasad block of Ganjam district. The police has lodged a case and started investigation.

Meanwhile, based on the report of a Kodala tehsildar, Ganjam Police have registered cases against 12 persons in relation to over 100 retuned migrant workers leaving two quarantine centres at Beguniapada and Ragapur on May 3. All those who left have been tracked down and brought back to the quarantine centres. The police is investigating the involvement of others in this attempt to avoid quarantine centres.

More arriving

Two special trains, each carrying around 1,100 returnees from Surat had reached Jagananthpur station in Ganjam district till Tuesday evening. Another train with migrant workers is expected to reach on Tuesday night. Buses transporting returnees from Surat are also entering Ganjam, but their numbers will fall as the State government has placed restrictions on the transportation of migrant workers by buses to Odisha following three accidents involving these buses in the past three days.

A rapid assessment of the situation at quarantine centres in 18 panchayats in Ganjam district by the Youth for Social Development (YSD) has hinted that they are mostly unprepared with respect to the number migrants expected to return from other States.

Till April 28, the total number of beds in 120 quarantine centres in these 18 panchayats was 6,950, which would not be enough for the 10,914 migrants from these areas, who had registered till April 28. The 18 sarpanchs assessed that approximately 18,500 people would return to their areas, said Bibhu Prasad Sahu, director, YSD. The total number of beds at quarantine centres in Tankachhai and Jhadabai was only 8% of the total migrants registered to return to the area.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 7:40:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/return-of-thousands-of-migrant-workers-to-ganjam-increases-fears-of-contagion/article31511532.ece

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