71,000 stranded labourers seek to leave Goa; transport being arranged: CM Sawant
The Goa government is trying to arrange for the return of 71,000 migrant labourers, who have registered with local authorities to have them transported back, chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Sunday.
The state government had empowered the two district collectorates to enlist the number of labourers stranded in Goa because of the Covid-19 lockdown and who were seeking to return home, following which these people signed up to be ferried back home.
They include 18,000 migrant workers from Karnataka, 17,000 from Uttar Pradesh and 11,000 from Bihar.
“We are in talks with the railways authorities and special trains will be arranged which will begin from one station in Goa and culminate at a station in UP and Bihar,” Sawant said while addressing a press conference.
He, however, didn’t elaborate on when these arrangements will be finalised only saying that the departure of the trains will be announced publicly.
Sawant also urged the labourers to continue to remain in the state saying that after economic activities resume, workers, especially in the construction sector, will be in short supply.
The government also welcomed Goa residents who have been stranded at different parts of the country and wish to travel to the state on their own but cautioned they will be taken to the quarantine centre once they are back and will be kept there until the results of their swab tests are in and reported negative.
More than 3,000 Goans are seeking to return home, many of whom are willing to come back in their own vehicles and have registered online for transit permits on the Goa government website.
“After that, we will send them home with a home quarantine stamp mandating that they quarantine themselves at home for 14-days,” Sawant.
While those who show residence proof will be quarantined for free, those who are not ideally residents of Goa but need to visit because of emergencies, including the ill health of relative, and for work reasons will be allowed in the state but will have to pay Rs 2,500 per day for their 14-day quarantine in a hotel.
“We will not be liberally issuing permissions to persons for whom Goa is not home. Only in the case of emergencies, they will be allowed as an exception,” Sawant said.
Earlier this week, around a hundred labourers converged at a railway station after word spread that trains were being arranged to take them back to their home state, necessitating the intervention of the police to help them return to their homes.