Returning migrants pose huge challenge to Bihar govt

The migrant labourers returning to Bihar has posed a big challenge to the state government — to keep them in 14-day isolation to contain coronavirus spread.

Over 45,000 people had reached the UP towns bordering Bihar and more than 100,000 were expected by evening, said a Bihar Disaster Management Department official, here on Monday.

Pratyam Amrit, Principal Secretary of the Disaster Management Department, said, “Six camps have been set up along the Bihar-UP border. By Monday, we are expecting 1.30 lakh people to reach the borders. We are looking to provide them food and make arrangements for their stay during the quarantine period.”

The state government, he said was taking all precautionary measures even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 21-day lockdown on March 24. After emergence of Covid-19 cases in the state, the government had made arrangements even in the rural areas to provide food and shelter and screen villagers for infection, he added.

But the influx of workers from Delhi has created serious problem the state government. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed displeasure at the migrant workers being sent back to Bihar.

“People from other states are being registered at the disaster border relief camps. Their health is being checked. After food and rest, they are being provided buses by the Transport Department in the district headquarters. Arrangements have been made to send them, ” said another official.

The process could continue for two-three days, he added.

Principal Secretary Deepak Kumar said arrangements were being made to send Biharis coming from outside to their villages. “All the Block Development Officers, Head of panchayats and sarpanches have been asked to monitor the situation and follow quarantine and social distancing norms,” Kumar said.

Those who had returned from abroad after March 10 were being investigated. The government has a list of 1,790 such people.

The Chief Minister after high-level meetings have ordered one-month’s ration free to 1.68 crore cardholders and payment of three months’ pension to all pensioners.

A control room has also been set up at Bihar Bhawan in Delhi to help people.