Nitish undertakes digital survey of quarantine centres

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Amid reports of migrant workers staging protests at quarantine centres in Bihar against lack of basic amenities and food, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday did a digital survey of 20 centres in 10 districts. He asked the migrants about the facilities at their centres and appealed to them to use their labour and skills for the development of the State.

Interacting with the migrants at quarantine centres in West Champaran, East Champaran, Darbhanga, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Purnea, Madhepura, Rohtas, Gaya and Begusarai districts, Mr Kumar told them to maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of the pandemic. He directed officials to create a database of migrants according to their skills to provide them jobs here.

Meanwhile, Bihar’s rural development department secretary Arvind Kumar Chaudhary said the department had decided to employ MGNREGA workers for flood management works that have started from the first week of May. As many as 3.5 million new workers have sought jobs under MGNREGA since April 1 this year, the highest in a decade according to officials. The figure for the same period in the last fiscal was 1.8 lakh.

An embarrassment

Videos of migrant workers protesting against the stale food and the absence of basic amenities and drinking water at quarantine centres had gone viral on the social media in recent weeks, causing a huge embarrassment to the government.

Nearly 7 lakh migrants are currently housed in about 7,800 quarantine centres in the State. On Friday, nearly a lakh more arrived in various districts in trains and buses. The government has made arrangements to provide three meals, milk for children, a bucket, mug and masks at the centres, but the migrants are now protesting against the rude behaviour of officials. At some centres, however, the workers were caught on camera dancing, drinking and even smoking what appeared to be cannabis.

Tejashwi slams govt.

“The Bihar government has been exposed as the migrants are given beaten rice, salt and chilli in the name of food,” alleged Leader of the Opposition in State assembly Tejashwi Yadav. “They are being treated like prisoners and not as victims of the prolonged lockdown,” he said.

“All the claims about food and amenities are made with an eye on the upcoming elections. Otherwise, why should the media be stopped from entering quarantine centres?” he asked.

Assembly elections in Bihar are scheduled for October-November this year.

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