Migrant workers being sent back without proper screening: Mamata slams railways

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KOLKATA, March 21 (AGENCIES): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged on Saturday that the railways was not ensuring proper screening of the passengers entering the state through long-distance trains.

She claimed that migrant workers from the state, particularly those in Maharashtra, were being packed off in trains and sent back without conducting medical checkups on them.

“I have been saying this for the last one month. Now India is entering the third stage (of the coronavirus outbreak), which is very dangerous. The next two weeks are extremely important. I have asked the chief secretary to tell the railway authorities to immediately stop all long-distance trains,” the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo told Bengali television news channel “ABP Ananda”.

She urged the workers coming back from other states to stay at home and not to venture out. She also appealed to those staying in the neighbourhoods of these workers to help them in running daily errands.

Banerjee further urged the workers not to leave West Bengal in the future, saying there were plenty of opportunities in the state.

“Our workers have a lot of talent. Other states use them for their benefit and drive them away when there is a crisis,” she said.

The chief minister said she had been urging the Centre to stop all international flights coming to the country for a long time.

She said essential commodities should be allowed to enter the state and the entry of all non-essential items should be discouraged at this point in time. On the availability of masks and hand sanitisers, Banerjee said the priority of the government was to supply these items to the health workers, cleaning staff and police personnel first.

“The small-scale sector of the state is manufacturing around 6,000 litres of alcohol-based hand sanitiser everyday. We will first supply it to those who are in the priority list and then it will be made available to the public,” she said.

The chief minister accused the Centre of not making enough masks and hand sanitisers available to the state. She also urged people to avoid large gatherings.

“Some organisations are organising large gatherings even now, which should be completely avoided. I urge them not to play with fire at this point in time,” Banerjee said.

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