Centre orders closure of state borders to stop migrants' exodus; warns lockdown violaters of 14-day quarantine

The Centre on Sunday asked state governments and Union Territory administrations to effectively seal state and district borders to stop movement of migrant workers during the nationwide lockdown and warned that those violating the curb will be sent to 14-day quarantine.

During a video conference with chief secretaries and DGPs, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla asked them to ensure that there is no movement of people across cities or on highways as the lockdown continues.

“There has been movement of migrant workers in some parts of the country. Directions were issued that district and state borders should be effectively sealed,” an official statement said.

States were directed to ensure that there is no movement of people across cities or on highways and there should be strict implementation of the lockdown.

Only the movement of goods should be allowed.

Those who have violated the lockdown and travelled during the period of lockdown will be subject to minimum 14 days of quarantine in government quarantine facilities, the statement said.

District Magistrates and SPs should be made personally responsible for the implementation of these directions, it said.

The two top central government officials told the chiefs of police and civil administrations of all states to make adequate arrangements for food and shelter for the poor and needy people including migrant labourers be made at the place of their work.

The Cabinet secretary and home ministry officials are in constant touch with the State chief secretaries and the DGPs.

Video conferences were held by the Cabinet Secretary and the Home secretary on Saturday evening as well as Sunday morning with the chief secretaries and the DGPs.

“It was noted that, by and large, there has been effective implementation of the lockdown guidelines across all States and UTs. Essential supplies have also been maintained. Situation is being monitored round the clock and necessary measures are being taken as required,” the statement said.

The central government had on Saturday issued orders for the use of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) funds for this purpose.

Sufficient funds are available with states in this head, it said.

States have been also told to ensure timely payment of wages to labourers at their place of work during the period of lockdown without any cut.

House rent should not be demanded from the labourers for this period. Action should be taken against those who are asking labourers or students to vacate the premises, the statement said.

Detailed instructions on monitoring of such persons during quarantine have been issued to the states.

It was impressed upon all the states that three weeks of strict enforcement is essential to contain the spread of coronavirus. This is in the interest of everyone, the statement said.

A large number of migrant workers have left their work places in different parts of the country in last few days and walking down to their native places, hundreds of kilometres away facing hardships on the way.

The migrant workers have 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 in a bid to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Seeing their plight, some state governments have made arrangements for their transport, accommodation and food of late.