‘Panic caused by fake news’ behind migrant exodus during lockdown: Govt in Parl

by Times of India

NEW DELHI: The exodus of a large number of migrant workers in the initial days of Covid-19 lockdown was triggered by panic created by ‘fake news’ regarding duration of the lockdown, and their worry regarding adequate supply of basic facilities like food, water, shelter and healthcare, the home ministry said on Tuesday.

In reply to a query in the Lok Sabha regarding measures taken to protect migrant workers prior to announcement of the lockdown, minister of state for home Nityanand Rai said the Central government, from March 21, 2020 onwards, expanded the ‘control room’ operations in the home ministry and made it functional 24×7 under the supervision of senior officers and representatives of key Central ministries.

“These control rooms, inter alia, attended to the grievances of stranded persons including migrant workers and promptly resolved these grievances relating to food, transport, shelter, etc. States and Union territories were also advised to set up control rooms with help lines and to appoint nodal officers,” said Rai.

Stating that migrant workers made a beeline to their hometowns, spooked by fake news regarding duration of the lockdown, the MoS said the Central government, fully conscious of their fears regarding lack of adequate basic amenities, ensured that during the period of the inevitable lockdown, no citizen was deprived of food, drinking water, medical facilities etc.

Towards this end, the Centre allowed state governments on March 28 to use their State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for making provisions of temporary accommodation, food, clothing, medical care, etc., to homeless people as well as migrant workers. To augment the funds with the states, Central government released an advance Rs 11,092 crore from the SDRF to the states on April 3, 2020.

The home ministry, to another query regarding the number of migrant workers who died while undertaking the journey back to their hometowns, said such data was not centrally maintained.

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