The Assam government is expecting that around 2.5 lakh people, stranded at various places in the country due to the ongoing lockdown, will enter the state in a month, following the Centre’s guidelines allowing their movement to reach homes, and working on a plan to bring them back, a minister said on Friday.
The state government has also sought permission from the Centre to bring back the cancer patients stuck in Mumbai by flights, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters here.
He said it will be a “challenge” for the government to deal with the inflow of the people stranded across India.
“The government is working on a plan for that,” he said.
“To bring back the cancer patients stuck in Mumbai, we have sought permission from the Central government to operate flights but we have not received the approval yet,” he said.
With lakhs of migrant workers and students stranded at various places for over a month due to the nationwide lockdown, the Centre had on Wednesday announced plans to allow their movement to help them reach their homes, including by crossing state borders.
The minister said “around 2-2.5 lakh people are expected” to come to Assam in a month.
“In the first phase, we will try to bring people stranded in different states of the north-east region. We are thinking of sending our state transport busses to places such as Shillong, Dimapur and Itanagar,” he said.
People from other places outside the north-east region will also be brought in the second phase, depending on availability of buses and train services from those states.
“We will announce dates considering the number of people, buses and availability of quarantine facilities in Assam. There has to be a balance,” the minister said.
He said people from eastern states like West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, and even from Delhi may be brought back through buses, while the government will have to request the railways for those stranded in south India.
A meeting with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was convened this evening on the issue, Sarma said.
“We have to bring them considering the capacity of our quarantine facilities and have seen that people usually do not follow the norms when they are advised to stay in home isolation. To keep people away from the coronavirus infection will be a big challenge for us,” the minister said.
According to the daily bulletin of the Health and Family Welfare Department, the government has quarantine facilities to accommodate 10,061 people across the state.