Migrant labourers who are coming back from foreign countries are demanding the Telangana government to reinstate the free quarantine facility in Hyderabad.
Earlier, the Telangana government offered free institutional quarantine to migrant labourers until the first week of July. So far, over 5,500 people have returned to the state and availed free quarantine before going to their native places.
The Telangana government reportedly stopped providing free quarantine facilities for unknown reasons. Sama Gangadhar, who is from Metpally town of Jagital district, said, "It cost us Rs 22,000 for the flight ticket. Now, the state government is charging Rs 8,400 for quarantine at the time of booking flight."
According to Sama, who used to work as a driver in Al Juffair in Bahrain, the government officials took the passports of all international passengers on arrival and directed them to be in one-week quarantine. The passports are temporarily confiscated for seven days.
â€śThey have neither informed us if they will refund Rs 8,000 nor how they will send us home. We donâ€™t have much money anyway,â€ť said Sama, who lost his job three months ago.
Sama is currently in 'institutional quarantineâ€™ at a hotel in Hyderabad.
J Srinivas of Mustabad village in Rajanna Sircilla district, who is placed in quarantine at a hotel in Secunderabad, told TNM that Rs 8,000 is not affordable to everybody as many of the returnees are workers who worked in informal sectors or construction work.
"It's been six days since we reached here. All of us agreed to pay the quarantine charges as the officials have taken our passports. Providing a quarantine facility should be free like earlier; otherwise, we should be allowed to go back to our native places or arrange quarantine facility at government buildings."
The Union Family and Health Ministry, in its guidelines for foreign arrivals, has mandated seven days of institutional quarantine and another seven days of home isolation.
Several activists working for the rights of migrants have also given representations to Collectors of northern Telangana districts, where migration to the Middle East is common.
Can #Telangana govt explain why have they revoked 'free institutional quarantine' facility to migrants who are coming back ?. Gulf migrants rights activists have given representations to Collectors concerned demanding the reinstate of free institutional quarantine' facility pic.twitter.com/MyRypAlW5K— CharanTeja (@CharanT16) July 10, 2020
Guggilla Ravi Goud, Telangana Gulf Migrants Joint Action Committee, said, â€śWe are demanding the government to provide a quarantine facility as many have lost migrants lost their jobs and have been unemployed for the last three months. Besides, the government should run more flights so that stranded migrants could come back."
Bheemreddy Manda, Emigrants Welfare Forum Convenor, said, "The government lifted the free quarantine facility for reasons better known to them. Migrants should be given free institutional quarantine option, irrespective of their flights, that is, whether it is under the Vande Bharat Mission or by chartered flights."
However, an official from Non-Resident Indians (NRI) affairs wing of Telangana government told TNM that one of the main reasons the free institutional quarantine was revoked was because people were staying together without following the physical distancing.