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Coronavirus lockdown: It's Delhi vs Bihar on who pays the train fare for migrant workers

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A day after 1,200 migrants returned to Muzaffarpur in Bihar from Delhi, the two states have been at loggerheads over the reimbursement of ticket fares for sending labourers back to Bihar by Shramik special trains.

Bihar Water Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha hit out at the Delhi government for demanding reimbursement from the Bihar government after it paid travel fares for the return of 1,200 migrants stranded in the national capital.

"On one hand, you are taking credit saying you are sending them back on your money and on the other hand, you are asking Bihar government to return the money," ANI quoted Jha as saying.

The matter soon turned into a debate after Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain replied to Jha saying that these migrant workers have been living in shelter homes for approximately two months and that it is unfair to charge any money from them. Jain further added that the Delhi government came forward to pay for the tickets since these workers did not have any source of income.

Jain was, however, not the only leader to clarify the reason for the Delhi government being the first one to make this payment. AAP spokesperson Sanjay Singh took to Twitter to share a Bihar government document that clearly stated that the state government will reimburse the fare paid by migrant workers on their arrival.

Singh further mentioned in his tweet that since the Bihar government and the Centre have asked the migrants to pay the fare, they didn't have the money at hand, hence the Delhi government paid for it.

According to a PTI report, all state governments except Maharashtra have been paying for the railway costs to ferry passengers to their native places.

Coronavirus: SBI shuts down part of Kolkata headquarters after employee tests positive

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The country's biggest lender State Bank of India (SBI) shut down a section of its head office in Kolkata after an employee was found positive. The infected employee is part of the staff at the Liability Centralised Processing Centre located at the E wing of the Local Head Office.

The employee was keeping away from work for 8-10 days before he was found to have contracted COVID-19. An SBI official told news agency PTI that the bank has sanitised the entire building and closed the section till May 11. However, all other departments are operational.

"As a responsible organisation, we will have to look into the welfare of all employees and follow the protocol in such challenging circumstances," the official said.

The infected employee is being treated at a private hospital. The SBI official said that another staff member who had travelled to a foreign country had also tested positive but has recovered now and is being treated at a government hospital.

As on May 8, 8am, West Bengal had reported 1,548 cases with 151 deaths and 364 discharges. Bengal has one of the country's highest mortality rates. A central government team that visited the state to take into account preparedness reported to the Bengal government that there are discrepancies in the numbers reported by the hospitals and the ones communicated to the Centre.

This incident comes after two branches of SBI were reportedly closed in Patiala city after two of its employees were tested positive. According to a report in Hindustan Times, a 48-year-old woman and her daughter (28) who worked at these branches were tested positive. Patiala civil surgeon Dr Harish Malhotra said that the two have been quarantined and that the process to trace individuals who visited these branches are underway.

Coronavirus: 29 BSF jawans test positive for COVID-19 in Jodhpur

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Twenty-nine BSF jawans, forming part of a company deployed earlier in the Walled City area in Delhi on internal security duty, tested positive for Covid-19 here on Wednesday, an official of the border guarding force said. All these jawans had been shifted to the Subsidiary Training Center (STC) of BSF on Monday from Delhi for quarantine.

Their samples were taken on Tuesday after their arrival at Jodhpur and had been sent to AIIMS for examination. The report was released by AIIMS on Wednesday morning, in which they were tested positive, the BSF official said. All of them have now been admitted in the AIIMS for treatment, he added.

According to the official, all these jawans were the part of a BSF company, which had been sent to Delhi from Jaipur for internal security purpose and had been put up at the Jama Masjid.

Some of the jawans, on duty there, had tested corona-positive, after which the entire company was air-lifted to Jodhpur and was quarantined at the STC considering adequate accommodation for their quarantine.

The official said the quarantine centre at the STC here is well-equipped for the purpose and the administration here has been taking proper care of all the jawans.

Coronavirus crisis: India to evacuate 15,000 stranded citizens; first round on May 7

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India is planning to bring back as many as 15,000 Indians stranded in various Gulf and Western countries due to the worldwide lockdown. As per the plan put in place by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, total 64 flights will operate for seven days starting May 7 from overseas to airports in different states of India. Notably, all passengers will have to pay ticket fare for their return; a similar procedure was followed by countries who evacuated their citizens from India.

The official document suggests 15 such flights carrying Indians stuck abroad will land in Kerala; 11 in Delhi; 11 in Tamil Nadu; seven in Maharashtra; seven in Telangana; five in Gujarat; and three each in Karnataka, J&K; and one each in UP and Punjab.

The government has decided to evacuate citizens from the US, the UK, the Philippines, Singapore, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Bangladesh. The 'Flight Plan for the Return of Indian Nationals Stranded Abroad', accessed by CNBC TV 18, says 2,300 citizens will be brought on May 7; 2,050 on May 8; 2,050 on May 9; 1,850 on May 10; 2,200 on May 11; 2,500 on May 12; and 1,850 on May 13.

All standard procedures will be followed. Passengers will be screened before boarding flights and only those with no symptoms will be allowed to board. Upon arrival, they will be screened again and all of them will have to mandatorily download the Centre's Aarogya Setu app. All of them will be quarantined for 14 days. They will either stay in government hospitals or new facilities set up for quarantine purpose.

They will again be tested after 14 days of quarantine, and those showing no signs of COVID-19 will be allowed to go home after following the due procedure. Notably, the Centre has asked all states receiving such individuals to make arrangements for their testing, quarantine and other mandatory procedures.

Meanwhile, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country jumped to 46,433 on Tuesday, including 32,138 active cases, 12,726 recoveries, 1 migrated and 1,568 deaths. India registered a record-high number of 1,074 novel coronavirus recoveries in the last 24 hours but the government cautioned that the lockdown restrictions could be re-imposed if people did not follow the containment and social distancing rules.

Migrant Workers Clash With Cops In Surat, Stones Thrown, Tear Gas Fired

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A group of migrant labourers clashed with the police in Gujarat's Surat today. The workers have been demanding that they be sent home. This was the fourth instance of protest by migrants in Surat, where a huge number of labourers come from other states to work in the diamond and textile industries.

The protesting migrants had gathered outside the market area in Vareli on the outskirts of Surat. The police were called in to calm down the mob, but when they came, the people started throwing stones. The police used tear gas to control the crowd.

The police called for reinforcements and a team has been sent to the area.

Another protest by the migrants took place at the Palanpur Patia area of Surat.

Last week, hundreds of labourers held a protest outside the offices of the Diamond Bourse in Surat, alleging that they were made to work amid the countrywide lockdown over coronavirus. Claiming that they do not have enough to eat, they demanded that the authorities help them to go home.

In March, the diamond and textile associations of Surat had decided to keep working despite the slowdown in business following lockdown across the world. Apart from losses, the two industries, which employ around two million people, had cited the question of largescale unemployment.

On April 10, hundreds of protesting migrant workers hit the street, setting fire to vehicles and handcarts. On April 15, a day after the lockdown was extended for the first time, the labourers blocked a road at the city's Varachha area.

The opening of special trains for migrants has increased the turmoil in Gujarat, which, after neighbouring Maharashtra, has the second highest number of cases of coronavirus in the country.

Gujarat so far had 5,428 cases of coronavirus, 1,042 patients have recovered, 290 have died.


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