By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2020-05-05 11:43:32
Total mismanagement over sending back migrant workers has resulted in clashes breaking out at many places while discontent has increased in several other places. Police clashed with violent workers in Surat and Bengaluru while the administration had a tough time controlling the large number of migrants who assembled at places like Ahmedabad.
It was announced in the press conference that migrant workers would need to register for being eligible to board trains. The same was reported in the media. But the administration should also have informed the migrants about it. It was not very difficult to do that as almost all cities and towns have migrant colonies or areas where a large number of such workers reside. Announcements could have been made over loudspeakers mounted on vehicles or camps for registration could have been set up in such areas. But since nothing was done, it was natural for the workers to get agitated.
Then, a needless controversy arose over the charging of the ticket price from the workers. The Centre now claims that it is paying 85% of the fare and has asked the states to contribute the rest. It should have stated this in the press conference to announce the running of the trains. Since nothing was clear on this account, the opposition parties are politicizing the issue. The Congress has said that it will pay the fare while the trustees of the Dargah at Ajmer are claiming to have paid for thousands of migrants. How is it possible if the government is not charging the fare from them?
Another issue is that a large number of workers are being found to be corona positive when they are being tested on reaching their home states. This proves that the health protocol of just screening them while boarding the trains or buses is not enough. At this rate, these returning workers will spread the virus all over the country, resulting in a huge fresh wave of infection and possible community transmission. The government has to take stricter measures to ensure they are not carriers by prescribing random tests for registered migrants before they board the trains.
The issue of stranded migrants and the problems being faced by them was the subject matter of endless debate for the last 40 days. The government knew that it would have to make arrangements for sending them back. Hence, it should have planned every detail before making the announcement. Further, it should have publicized all decisions at that time to avoid confusion and mismanagement. The way things are panning out, it is certain that there will be more clashes and there are chances that the situation will go out of control in some places. The government needs to streamline things at the earliest to avoid that.