Bhubaneswar: Amid reports of migrant workers escaping from quarantine centres in Odisha, Union Minister Pratap Sarangi has sought round-the-clock security at the COVID-19 quarantine centres to prevent inmates from fleeing and infecting others.
Some migrants, who were kept in schools in Ganjam after returning from Surat, reportedly fled the quarantine centres on May 3.
This “exposed the gaps” in the state government’s management plan, Sarangi, who hails from Odisha, said in a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Sarangi urged the chief minister to ensure foolproof security at the centres by formally engaging at least three persons in each quarantine centre. The persons, preferably from nearby villages, should be put on eight-hour duty, he said.
In the letter, the union minister said, while bed, food, toilet, sanitation and personal kits were ensured for the returnees at the quarantine centres, the vital aspect of maintaining tight security at the Gram Panchayat level temporary centres had been neglected.
“As a result, many inmates breached rules, escaped from the quarantine centres and infected others.
“This not only created panic among people but also exposed the gaps in the governments management plan, leading to slowing down of the movement of the stranded people by road as well as by rail,” the Union Minister of State for MSME, Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries said in the letter, a copy of which was released to the media on Sunday.
The whole process was “further delayed” as a PIL was filed in the Orissa High Court, he said.
The high court, which had passed an interim order on Thursday had suggested that state should ensure that only those tested negative for COVID-19 are allowed to return.
The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the interim order of the Orissa High Court.
Against this backdrop, he urged the chief minister to ask the chief secretary to clear the confusion and contact his counterparts in different states who are “more than willing” to facilitate the movement of migrant labourers and others, Sarangi said.
The minister pointed out that well before the Centre permitted inter-state movement of migrant labourers and others, Patnaik had on April 21 unveiled a roadmap detailing the planning and action, including vesting the powers of the district magistrate and collector with sarpanchs, to deal with varied aspects of management of migrant labourers during their mandatory quarantine period.