SHOCKING! States ask incoming migrants to pay for institutional quarantine

Goa, Karnataka, Gujarat, Telangana are among those who are charging migrants to pay for food and other facilities at quarantine centres


About 20 natives of Kutch returning home from Tamil Nadu after a long ordeal were in for a shock at Surajbari checkpost on Saturday, reported the Ahmedabad Mirror. The constant changes in guidelines that allowed migrants to return home, left them in a lurch when they were forced to spend 12 hours on the highway without food, even though they had all permissions for travel.

The migrants who were supposed to be home quarantined upon return as per an earlier notification found themselves on the street thanks to a new order passed on May 15 stating that they would have to live in institutional quarantine for a week followed by a week of isolation at home.

It was in the process of assigning quarantine facilities to 20 travellers that the authorities took 12 hours. As if this wasn’t enough, they were told that they themselves would have to pay for the arrangements made.

Mithiben Patel, 27, told Ahmedabad Mirror, “I sold my jewellery to reach Kutch. I was hopeful that once I arrive here, I will be taken care of. But we are stuck without money and resources. We are being asked to pay Rs. 300 daily per head for food. We have a house in Dudhai village. It would be better if we are allowed to home – quarantine for all the 14 days. At least, we can survive on whatever means we have.”

Ambavia Patel, 53, wiped off tears saying, “We are all middleclass families. Most of us are self-employed and our savings were not enough for the journey. We borrowed money at 10 percent interest to hire two buses for Rs. 4 lakh. We paid the drivers Rs. 2,000 per day. After four stressful days of journey, we are being asked to pay money for getting admitted into quarantine facilities.”

29-year-old Hitendra Patel asked, “Isn’t it the duty of the government to provide us shelter? It’s sad we are being asked to pay money. We are a group of 20 people including 10 men, 6 women and four kids. We are being forced to sit by the side of the highway, in the open, in summer.”

Speaking about the issue Kutch Collector Praveena DK said, “Only labourers arriving in Kutch by special Shramik Trains are being provided free food and lodging as per norms. We have readied schools, marriage halls, etc. as institutional quarantine facilities for those who cannot bear lodging expenses. But they will have to pay for food,” adding that food wasn’t such a big issue as several NGOs and sponsors were providing food for migrants.

Gujarat not the only state asking migrants to pay

Apart from Gujarat, states like Karnataka and Goa have also made institutional quarantine mandatory for those returning to the state because these governments believe that “paid” quarantine will deter large populations from coming in.

The Times of India reported heart-rending scenes near Bengaluru, of mothers, students and disabled people pleading with authorities to just let them go home were noticed. “Sir, we will be in home quarantine, you can track us using technology like how you did it earlier for those who returned from abroad,” said a desperate father pointing out that he didn’t have money for institutional quarantine.

In Goa, the government has announced that it will most likely charge anything between Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 3,000 per day for quarantine facilities, with the exception of seafarers whose costs will be borne by their respective organizations for those returning from foreign countries.

Those returning to the state from within the country will not be charged for quarantine if they provide an address proof of a residence in Goa. For non-Goans coming into the state, a fee of Rs. 2,500 per day for quarantine will be charged.

Some Gulf workers working in Abu Dhabi and Dubai wanting to return home in Telangana said they were demanded Rs. 15,000 for a quarantine fee even though they said they hadn’t earned any money. G Venkat, a blue collar worker just like many others stuck outside the country said, “Covid-19 situation is still serious. We want to come back to India. If we are infected, we rather want to die in our homeland.”

In another example of state apathy, one of the workers who returned from Kuwait to Nizamabad said, “We have been placed under quarantine in Hyderabad, but if they insist that we pay money, we have no option but to agree for any legal action that will be taken against us. But our families cannot afford to pay for quarantine.”

Migrants have had to face cheaters and death all during the Covid-19 lockdown. Trying to return home, they have been robbed off of their dignity due to the Centre’s efficiency. After going through so much when they finally had a way to return home, some state governments are now twisting rules to prevent them from either leaving the state so that they can work to benefit the government or are preventing them from entering their home states so that the states don’t have to bear the burden to save their lives – examples of utter disregard for the lives of the impoverished in India.


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