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Odisha braces up for wave of 5 lakh returnees post COVID-19 Lockdown

Bhubaneswar: Odisha is bracing up for an influx of lakhs of people who are stranded outside the state because of the ongoing lockdown. While the State government expects around 5 lakh people belonging to the state to return from outside states within days after the lockdown ends on May 3, another estimate reveals that a total of around 7.5 lakh are stranded and eagerly waiting to return to the state.

Odisha government is seriously looking into the post lockdown situation as around 7.5 lakh people are eagerly waiting to return to the State, said D K Singh, Principal Secretary of the Panchayati Raj department.

During the press briefing on COVID19 situation in the State, Singh said that Odisha government is going to have an online portal soon where people wanting to return to Odisha will have to register themselves.

“The registration process will begin from April 24, and no person will be allowed to return to the State without registration on the government portal. The registration will help the government know the number of people who will return to the State and the places from which they will come and their destination in Odisha,” said Singh adding that it will help the government make necessary arrangements for them.

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There are three ways to register on the portal- the returnees can themselves get their names registered on the portal, someone else can also register their names or their relatives can fill-up a form and submit the same at concerned gram panchayats where officials will make the registration.

Once people from outside arrive in the state at a particular bus stand or railway station, the concerned block officials will take them to temporary medical camps for a 14-day mandatory quarantine, stated Singh adding that a total of around 7,000 medical camps have already been set up at the gram panchayats across the State.

“No one will be allowed to directly go home. They will have to stay at the quarantine centres for 14 days; and if no symptoms are found during the period, they will be allowed to go home,” he said.

“The government will chalk out its plan after getting details of the number of people set to return to different gram panchayats in the State after the COVID restrictions are lifted. We have currently 2 lakh beds at the medical camps but we expect that around 5 lakh people will return to the State and hence, we will increase the bed number to 5 lakh,” Singh added.

Earlier today, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had administered oath to over 6,700 Sarpanchs to work towards keeping their areas free from the Coronavirus infection. He had earlier bestowed the power of district collector to the village heads/sarpanchs.

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“I am sure, if you sincerely follow the government’s guidelines, Coronavirus cannot enter in villages and panchayats. Do good work. Me and my government are with you,” Patnaik told the Sarpanchs.

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