NEW DELHI: Union Home Minister Amit Shah has spoken to some of the chief ministers and asked them to look into the issue of mass exodus of migrant workers from different parts of the country after the announcement of the 21-day lockdown.
Joint Secretary (Home Affairs) Punya Salila Srivastava said that Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has also asked the state governments and Union Territory administrations to provide food and shelter to the migrant workers so that they remain at the place where they are. "The home minister has spoken to some of the chief ministers and asked them to look into the matter," she told a press conference here.
There have been reports of a large number of migrant workers leaving their work places in different parts of the country and walking down to their native places, hundreds of kilometres away facing hardships on the way.
The migrant workers are left with no option but to walk as there is no transport available after the announcement of the nationwide lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
Srivastava said that the home ministry has asked the states and union territories to prevent large-scale movement of migrants during lockdown. "Lockdown means be where you are," she said. The home secretary has written a letter to state chief secretaries to provide the migrant workers food and shelter.
"We have asked the states to find such a place where food and sanitation could be arranged. The home secretary also told the states that the migrants should be made aware about the availability of free food grains," she said.
The joint secretary said now the state governments are giving emphasis on that. "There is fear in the minds of the migrant workers and it is necessary to allay their fear. Awareness should be generated about the free food grains. This is our request to the states and union territories," she said.
Srivastava said the home secretary has also held a video conference with the DGPs of the states and asked them to ensure proper implementation of the lockdown and at the same time make available essential commodities to the general public.
The home secretary also said that essential commodities should be made available to students and those who are living in hostels, including working women hostels. Srivastava said the home ministry is constantly monitoring the situation and ensuring that cargo movements are also not hampered during the lockdown.
The central and state governments have unleashed unprecedented and extraordinary measures to contain the spread of the fast-spreading coronavirus, which has already infected more than 700 people in the country and claimed at least 17 lives.