Once bitten, twice shy. After facing a major challenge to stop migration and organise relief camps for those who stayed back last year, three departments -Labour, Transport and Public Health- have come together to prepare a comprehensive road map to address these issues. A maiden joint meeting has been slated for April 5 to discuss the present situation following the government’s announcement to take stringent measures to curb the spread of the virus. Maharashtra Legislative Council Deputy Chairperson Dr Neelam Gorhe took the initiative to organise the proposed online meeting.
Dr Gorhe told the Free Press Journal, “Labour Minister Dilip Walse Patil, Transport Minister Anil Parab and Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope will participate and explain the steps taken so far by their respective departments to address issues faced by migrants. Migrants should be taken into confidence and assured of the government’s assistance during the present crisis. In a bid to go back to their respective hometowns, they use different modes of transport. And adequate care should be taken so that they are not infected by the virus.” She added that the Labour and Revenue Departments can issue guidelines when these workers come to the cities for tests.
Monday’s meeting is crucial, especially when there are reports from western and northern Maharashtra that a group of workers or their organisations were booking available modes of transport for them to travel to their home districts in the state. The Home Department officer pointed out that, if these workers in large numbers hit the roads, it may lead to congestion and chaos. “Some of them use non-licensed vehicles, which may cause road accidents as reported last year. Therefore, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has asked the district administration to sensitize workers so that they don’t panic and rush home,” he noted.