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You had power to implement lockdown: Arvind Kejriwal faces heat from Centre for facilitating exodus of migrant workers amidst lockdown

To do away with the migrant workers in the national capital amidst the pandemic, the AAP government earlier allegedly spread the rumour that buses have been waiting at the UP borders to take them to their respective households. This impelled the mass exodus of these migrant labourers, now camping at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, in an attempt to return to their respective villages.

Following a high-level meeting by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal had written a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday evening wherein he slammed the CM for the exodus of migrant workers from Delhi, amidst the coronavirus lockdown, reported Hindustan Times. Baijal blamed the Delhi Government for its failure to provide basic facilities and reassure the migrant workers of their well-being.

The Lieutenant Governor also pointed out that Arvind Kejriwal had all the powers to effectively implement the lockdown in Delhi. As such, it made no sense for the Delhi Government to allow the use of DTDC buses to ferry migrant workers to the Uttar Pradesh border. This defeated the very purpose of the lockdown. Keeping the future in mind, Anil Baijal had also asked the State government to convince migrant workers to shift to government-run shelter homes where food and shelter would be provided.

To do away with the migrant workers in the national capital amidst the pandemic, the AAP government earlier allegedly spread the rumour that buses have been waiting at the UP borders to take them to their respective households. This impelled the mass exodus of these migrant labourers, now camping at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, in an attempt to return to their respective villages.

On Sunday, the Central Government directed the governments of all States and Union Territory administrations to seal their borders in order to restrict the movement of migrant workers during the nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the wake of Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak.

The States have also been directed to restrict the movement of people across cities and on highways. Only the movement of goods and essential supplies are to be permitted. Migrant workers who have violated lockdown guidelines and travelled to other states are to be kept under quarantine for 14 days in government facilities.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla briefed the DGPs and Chief Secretaries to make adequate provisions for food and shelter for the migrant workers. Besides, the States had been directed to make timely payment of wages without any cut to the migrant workers at the place of their work.  The same was reiterated by Anil Baijal in his strongly-worded letter to Arvind Kejriwal.

A Home Ministry official said that the exodus of migrant workers may make the nation pay dearly for the violation of lockdown guidelines. He added, “It is going to be a massive exercise… was completely avoidable.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also initiated disciplinary action against four bureaucrats in Delhi for failing to ensure COVID-19 lockdown. Two officers, including Additional Chief Secretary (Transport) and Principal Secretary (Finance), had been suspended with immediate effect. Show-cause notices were also served to the Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Land Buildings) and SDM (Seelampur). The punitive action came after a massive crowd of migrant workers flocked to Anand Vihar and “jeopardized the safety of crores of other citizens”.

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