Chandigarh, April 2 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday assured Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi that the state did not have a migrant issue in the light of the COVID-19 lockdown, as he had directed the industry to absorb all such labourers.
Amarinder Singh said extensive arrangements have been made by the state to provide shelter and food to the migrant labourers, who could not leave the state in view of the nationwide restrictions and sealing of borders.
The issue was raised by Sonia Gandhi during a CWC meeting held through video conference to take stock of the situation and formulate a strategy for the party to play a strong role in this hour of crisis.
An official statement quoting Amarinder Singh said the state was taking all steps to address the issues arising out of movement of migrant labour back to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The issue has been contained due to timely intervention and “we are making all arrangements for their food and shelter”, he added.
In response to the concern expressed by Gandhi on the arrangements for farmers in view of the onset of the harvesting season, the Chief Minister said all arrangements were being made to ensure smooth operations, with strict maintenance of social distance protocols in the mandis.
The state had also urged the Central government to incentivise farmers to go in for staggered transportation of the grain to the mandis and delayed procurement.
Briefing Gandhi about the current situation in the state, which has a large NRI population, the Chief Minister said the state had so far been able to contain the spread of the disease through intensive tracing and surveillance.
The state was also preparing to deal with the eventuality of the disease acquiring larger epidemic proportions by May or June, he told the meeting.
Amarinder Singh said the state Health and Family Welfare department was in regular touch with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and was adhering to all the protocols laid down by ICMR and the Union ministry.
Asked about the problems faced by the state, the Chief Minister told the Congress Working Committee that it was not receiving its GST share from the Centre, which was causing serious financial problems.
On its part, the state has sanctioned Rs 20 crore to all districts to ensure food and shelter for homeless and underprivileged, among other measures taken to combat the crisis, he added.
The Chief Minister lauded the role of Punjab Police not just in enforcing curfew and maintaining law and order but also in the distribution of essential supplies, particularly food, among the poor and the needy.
Dry rations were being given out to daily wagers and unorganized labour, he added.