Bhubaneswar: In a major relief to lakhs of Odias stranded due to COVID-induced lockdown, the Odisha government on Sunday launched concrete steps to bring back labourers stuck in Gujarat and Maharashtra in a safe and dignified manner, a senior official said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik discussed issues pertaining to migrant workers with his Gujarat and Maharashtra counterparts Vijay Rupani and Uddhav Thackeray respectively through separate video conferences in which Union Petroleum and Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also took part.
Patnaik requested Rupani and Thackeray to arrange for safe return of Odia brothers and sisters working in their respective states.
It was decided that senior officials of Odisha will coordinate with Gujarat and Maharashtra officers to facilitate the return of stranded Odia migrant workers to their homes from the western states.
A majority of the estimated five lakh Odia migrant workers stranded across the country due to the lockdown are in Gujarat, mainly in Surat, while a sizable number of them are also stuck in different places of Maharashtra, he said.
A coordination committee will be constituted comprising two senior officers each from Gujarat and Maharashtra to work out details of the return of the stranded workers to Odisha, he said.
Similarly, chief secretaries of Odisha and Maharashtra will discuss the modalities and senior officers of the two states will coordinate for return of the stranded Odia workers from the western state.
The stranded migrant workers from both Gujarat and Maharashtra will be brought to Odisha mainly by buses while other modes of transportation will also be examined, the official said.
Those wishing to return from the two western states to their homes in Odisha will have to register their name and address on state government portal covid19.odisha.gov.in.
Pradhan also emphasised on registration of all Odia workers before their return.
The migrant workers will be placed under quarantine for 14 days after their return to Odisha, the official said, adding that registration and quarantine are mandatory for the returnees.
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While the Maharashtra chief minister promised that his government will not levy any tax on buses carrying the home-bound Odia workers, the Odisha government will urge the governments of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to waive road tax of buses bringing the migrant workers to their native places from the two western states, the official said.
Altogether 7,086 temporary medical centres have been set up in 6,798 gram panchayats of the state for placing people returning from other states under quarantine, he said. In all those centres, 1,69,406 beds have been readied to provide COVID-19 health services in rural areas.