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Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: Apprehensions are being raised over Odisha government's preparedness to tackle the influx of nearly 7 to 8 lakh people who are now stranded in different parts of the country due to the lockdown. Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra on Thursday questioned the adequacy of quarantine facilities for nearly 10 lakh people who may return to the state after the lockdown is lifted.

The senior BJP leader urged that the State government should review its strategy again and take adequate measures to use colleges and other government facilities as quarantine centres to isolate returnees. “Recently BJP national VP Baijayant Panda had also requested the Odisha government to convert auditoriums and other facilities constructed from MPLAD funds in Kendrapara. Such measures can play a crucial role in accommodating the returnees,” said Mohapatra.

Mohapatra further cautioned State government to re-strategise its planning to provide livelihood to the migrants here.

During 2018-19, 1.21 lakh people were provided with 100 days of work while only 47,000 people got employment during 2019-20. “The situation is likely to create a burden for Odisha and proper planning for livelihood must be done,” Mohapatra added.

Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera, on the other hand, stated that people including students are coming to Odisha on their own arrangements from other States. “There would be no problems in accommodating them as efforts are also being made to come up with additional quarantine centres. Schools, panchayat offices and other utilities will be converted into quarantine centres,” said Behera.

Behera further stated that there will be absolutely no problem in providing necessary livelihood support to the migrants in the State.

On the other hand, as many as 116 students from Odisha who were stranded in Kota, Rajasthan amid COVID-19 lockdown are returning to the State in four buses. The students, mostly residents of Rourkela are reportedly returning at their own expense.

Moreover, after around 200 returnees from Surat in Gujarat arrived in Odisha yesterday, more are reportedly on their way.

"We have come to know that a bus carrying some migrants of Bhadrak is returning from Surat, but none of the passengers have registered their names on COVID portal. After they reach Odisha border, necessary steps will be taken,” Bhadrak Collector, Gyana Das said.

As around 2 lakh people are expected to reach Ganjam, adequate steps are being taken for their accommodation in quarantine centres, said district Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange.

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