GUWAHATI: Amid controversy over stranded labourers paying train fares for their journey back home, the Assam government has decided not to arrange any transportation for people returning by road from where they are now to the border point of the state.
After they reach Assam border, the state administration will arrange public transport to take them home, according to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for people stranded in other parts of the country and coming to Assam by road.
No public transport of other states, except light motor vehicles, will be allowed to enter Assam, it said.
On Monday, a political slugfest broke out over the homecoming of migrants after the Congress announced to pay for their travel, drawing a sharp retort from the BJP which said the railways was already bearing 85 per cent of the cost and charging only 15 per cent from the state governments.
Till announced otherwise, no transportation arrangements will be made in initial period by Government of Assam for travel till the border of Assam.
The returnees will avail of available transport facilities i.e. public transportation or will arrange own cars/taxis etc to travel.
"The public transport of other states will not be allowed to enter Assam. The light motor vehicles will be allowed to enter Assam and travel to the destinations within Assam, subject to fulfillment of requisite conditions," said the document, which was circulated among the top officials of the Assam government on Monday night.
The Transport department and the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) will make arrangements for the people coming by other states' public transport from border points to screening centres and then onwards to the respective district headquarters.
While stranded people from North Eastern states will be allowed to enter through all border points, those from the rest of the country will come through Srirampur in Kokrajhar district and Sagalia in Dhubri, the SOP signed by Health and Family Welfare Principal Secretary Samir Sinha said.
It also stated that all those coming from the rest of the country will have to apply for passes to enter Assam, but no such document is required for those returning home from the North Eastern states except Sikkim.
"Government of Assam will allow return of residents of Assam stranded in various parts of India in a staggered/phased manner after ensuring that there is proper screening of these residents," the SOP said.
It said the passes will be issued based on three parameters: risk category of the region green, orange or red zones - one is coming from; risk profile of the person - health and age and gender; and the reason of the returnees travel outside employment, medical treatment, education, tourism or pilgrimage.
A three-phased sequential approach will be adopted for issuance of passes people coming from NE states in the first phase, followed by those who are vulnerable, and then people outside NE states.
However, those who have already arrived at Srirampur and Sagalia without passes will be allowed to enter on foot and get a pass after furnishing requisite details.
"After obtaining passes, they will be transported by ASTC to the Zonal Screening Camps corresponding to their district," the document said.
The government has already issued a phone number - 7428159966 - in which stranded people have been asked to give missed calls till May 10 for issuance of passes through an online system.
Anticipating a huge rush of people coming from the rest of the country, the government has decided to set up five Zonal Screening Camps at Kokrajhar, Tezpur, Jorhat, Guwahati and Silchar, besides those at the district headquarters.
"Till such time the Zonal Screening Camps are ready, all returnees from non-NE states will be routed non-stop to Sarusajai screening camp, Guwahati," the document said.
The authorities have also arranged three types of quarantine -- institutional facility (all expenses paid by government), hotels for vulnerable persons like elderly persons and pregnant women (cost borne by government) and hotels opted by individuals (pre-fixed rates paid by the person staying).
Health and Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had earlier this month said that an estimated 20 lakh people from Assam are in different states, of which the government was expecting 2-2.5 lakh people entering within next one month.