Fees for Institutionalised Quarantine Cruel and Inhumane – SDPI

Abdul Majeed KH, national general secretary of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) expressed shock and indignation about the decision of the governments of Gujarat, Goa and Karnataka the three BJP ruled states to collect fees for institutionalised quarantine from the migrant workers returning home. “It is cruel and inhumane to charge them for quarantine, as they have no income for the last couple of months since they were jobless following the lockdown”, said Abdul Majeed.

Around 20 natives of Kutch, Gujarat returning home from Tamil Nadu were forced to spend 12 hours on the highway without food at Surajbari checkpost even though they had all permissions for travel. The migrants were supposed to be home quarantined for a fortnight upon return as per an earlier notification, but a later order on 15th May changed this to 7-day institutionalized quarantine followed by a week isolated stay at home. And these hapless people have to now pay Rs. 300 per head per day for food for the institutionalised quarantine!

The workers who returned hiring a bus had already incurred a whopping 4 lakh rupees as rent for two buses and eight thousand rupees as tips to the drivers. They raised this much money as loan at 10 percent interest, and they are being asked to pay again for institutionalised quarantine which other governments like Kerala are providing free of cost.

Apart from Gujarat, 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.

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.

When the returnees are ready to undergo isolated quarantine at their respective abodes for the stipulated period, it is bizarre why the governments want them to be put under institutionalised quarantine charging them huge amounts.

The apathy of the right-wing governments at the centre and the states is leading the country to a major humanitarian crisis. The UP government had sent back the buses arranged by Congress to transport the bare-foot walking migrant workers to their home villages on flimsy grounds. The governments should approach the issues of the migrant workers in humanitarian ways, said Majeed.

He urged the governments to withdraw the order for institutionalised quarantine and keep the returnees on home isolation with adequate surveillance of the health authorities so that they are not again pushed into hardships at home.