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Covid-19 Lockdown: Migrant Sugarcane Workers in Maharashtra Allowed Conditional Travel

A farmer harvests sugarcane in his field. (Image: Reuters)

A farmer harvests sugarcane in his field. (Image: Reuters)

Over 1.31 lakh migrant sugarcane workers have been allowed to return to their native villages amid the lockdown subject to the carrying out of medical tests in connection with the coronavirus outbreak.

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has decided to allow over one lakh migrant sugarcane workers to return to their native villages amid the lockdown subject to the carrying out of medical tests in connection with the coronavirus outbreak, state Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde said on Friday.

A statement from the minister's office said 1.31 lakh sugarcane workers are living in temporary shelters provided in the premises of 38 sugarcane factories in the state, while several others are stuck elsewhere.

The lockdown, which has hit migrant workers hard due to the ban on movement and has resulted in sporadic outpouring of anger, is in force across the country till May 3.

Incidentally, the state government decision to allow migrant sugarcane workers to return to their native villages will entail a huge number of inter-district movements.

"Good news for my sugarcane worker brothers! You can return to your home (villages) now. The government has issued an order in this regard. Return to home staying within the rules laid down by the government. Take care of your health as well of your villages. Stay inside homes when you return there," Munde tweeted.

He also shared the circular issued by the government in this regard, and said the decision was taken collectively by the Maharashtra State Disaster Management, Help and Rehabilitation and Revenue Department.

The decision will benefit sugarcane workers from Beed and Ahmednagar who are stranded in western Maharashtra, the border areas with Karnataka and other parts of the state, a statement issued by Munde's office said.

The statement said those operating these factories will have to get workers and their kin tested and certified, and inform authorities, including gram panchayats, and then obtain requisite permissions for their safe return.

"The factories' administration should ensure workers and their livestock reach their villages coordinating with district collectors and gram panchayats concerned. Factories will have to provide meals and drinking water facilities to the workers," the statement added.

Factories have been asked by the government to put the evacuation plans in place, it said.


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