States should seal borders and encourage migrant labourers to stay where they are by providing food and shelter, the Centre said today in an attempt to ensure the countrywide lockdown that had gone off-track over the last few days. Those who violated lockdown and went home, should be placed in 14-day quarantine, the Centre said.
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 21-day lockdown announcement five days ago, thousands of daily wagers have been making their way home, unsure of the future in big cities where they no longer had food or jobs.
The terminuses and the packed buses - where people even sat on the roof - went against the government's efforts to ensure social distancing, the only way to slow down the progress of the highly infectious coronavirus.
To get the lockdown back on track, the Centre today issued an advisory to the states today, which was soon backed up by an order from the home ministry.
The states have been asked to stop incoming buses at the border and place the occupants on a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Food and other essentials should be made available to the people during this period, the Centre said.
Action should be taken against landlords who are asking such tenants to vacate, the Centre said. Food and shelter should be provided for the needy -- including migrant labourers -- be made at the place of their work. Sufficient funds are available with the states for this, the Centre said. Also, employers should pay the workers for the lockdown period, it added.
"It was impressed upon all the States that three weeks of strict enforcement is essential to contain spread of corona virus. This is in the interest of everyone," the circular said.
The movement of labourers has already stopped in Delhi. The interstate buses that ran for them for roughly two days were stopped this morning. Those reaching the bus terminuses in Delhi were told to go home by the police.
Movement within the states, though, is on as migrants working in the state capitals and other big cities, tried to go home. Kerala's Kottayam witnessed chaos this morning as a hundreds of migrants took to the streets, seeking transport to go to their villages.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has again appealed to migrant workers not to leave.In a series of tweets in Hindi, he said, "I assure you that the Delhi government has made sufficient arrangements for your food and accommodation. For now, do not go to your villages in the country's interest".