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Devbrat Patnaik

Berhampur: They said they would starve to death if the State government doesn't facilitate their homecoming. Desperate measures were taken to bring these stranded migrant workers back, and the rest is history.

A district which obeyed every rule in the book to stay away from the novel coronavirus (n-CoV), suddenly seems to be on the verge of becoming the most vulnerable with the return of thousands of migrants from Surat and other COVID hotbeds. So far, 4 Surat returnees have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ganjam district while countless reports surfaced wherein some of them violated norms, threw food and even fled government quarantine.

Despite a strict 43-day restriction to flatten the curve, the green zone turned into an orange territory in no time.

On Tuesday, as many as three persons sustained injuries after a group clash broke out at Jamugorada quarantine centre in Jagannath Prasad area of the district. Confirming the same, Ganjam SP said that cases have been registered against four persons based on a complaint filed by the local Sarpanch.

This apart, police was able to trace and detain around 128 Odia migrants who had escaped from two quarantine centres in Beguniapada area of Ganjam district on Monday. The SP informed that all of them have been shifted to the quarantine centres by the district administration while case was registered against 12 persons including those who had helped them flee quarantine.

As per reports, around 17000 Odia migrants have been put in quarantine centres in 503 panchayats under 22 blocks of Ganjam district. While the situation looks slightly under control, locals have raised concerns on how the administration would tackle the menace when lakhs of migrants will hit the district. Sources revealed that around two lakh migrants have registered with the government to return to Ganjam district.

Apprehending threat to life, a few panic-stricken people also demanded to shift the quarantine centres to far off places.

State Health Minister Naba Das has also warned of stringent action against those found violating quarantine guidelines or are indulged in unruly behaviour.

Pictures Of COVID-19 Mismanagement?

In an incident which has pointed fingers at the State's COVID management, as many as 12 Odia migrants of Jajpur district who returned from Surat today along with 50-odd co-passengers were spotted roaming in Bhubaneswar after disembarking from a bus near Kalpana Square. The bus after deboarding them at the junction, travelled towards Puri to deboard other passengers, sources said.

When they dialled Helpline No. 100 and 104 for assistance, they alleged, there was no response. Finding no other option, they reportedly walked for some distance and then boarded a mini-truck headed towards Jajpur and Bhadrak.

Lack of proper arrangements was also reported at a quarantine centre in Similipur panchayat under Banki PS of Cuttack district. A youth who had recently returned from Jajpur was shifted to the centre, which allegedly is devoid of any government staff. It's been four days now that his parents are taking home-made food for him. The situation is such that they accompany him throughout the day and night so that he doesn't feel isolated.

When local Sarpanch Laxmipriya Sahu was contacted, she said she had asked the panchayat peon to look after the lone guy at the quarantine centre. Shockingly, he is nowhere in the scene.

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