It is an undisputed fact that Coronavirus has so far claimed over 160,000 lives globally, destroyed the economies which were flourishing at a fast pace, rendered many workers jobless with no money in their hands for survival, unbearable burden on the state and national governments to immediately enforce measures to prevent further spread of Coronavirus, and what not.
This article focuses on the recent actions taken by the Bihar Government with an intent to mitigate the sufferings of migrant workers currently living within the State territory, and those who are stranded in other states but belong to Bihar.
It all begun when the Bihar Government has declared COVID-19 as an epidemic and issued the Bihar Epidemic Diseases COVID-19 Regulation 2020. This has given authority to authorized persons under this Regulation to organize screening of suspected cases of COVID-19, hospitals to record travel history of the patients and admit them accordingly if the person has travelled to any place where COVID-19 cases are reported, prevent the spread of misinformation through any media or channel, prevent private laboratories other than the designated laboratories to conduct test for COVID-19 in the State of Bihar, forcefully admit a suspected case of COVID-19 even if he refuses admission or isolation, sealing of any geographical area or declaring any of the areas as containment zone, ban on vehicular movements and public gatherings, close all educational and research institutions, etc. According to Regulation 19, if any person is found violating any of the provisions laid down in these regulations, then he shall be deemed to have committed an offence within the ambit of Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Also, the migrant workers, who reached Bihar by whatever means, either through special trains, or buses, or by foot, were to stay in mandatory quarantine for 14 days in isolation camps near the borders with Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Nepal. It has also set up about 3,200 quarantine camps in government schools at Panchayat level, where more than 27,000 migrants are put up.
Also, when the healthcare sector in Bihar forgot to perform its duties diligently, the State Government became all set to take actions against 198 doctors who were found absent from their duty on different dates. The Department had strictly enforced the cancellation of all leaves except maternal and study leave for doctors.
CM Nitish Kumar intimated that all ration card holding families within the State shall get an assistance of Rs. 1000 each which is to be transferred via Direct Benefit Transfer System. The State Government has debited almost Rs. 8 lakh in bank account of all the beneficiaries.
Bihar Government has also successfully provided meals, other essential items and dry rations to migrants in isolation camps organized in Delhi, Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal. The Government funded relief operations in these places were conducted through the overwhelmed support by Bihar Foundation’s chapters and their affiliated organizations.
However, even in such circumstances, the Bihar Government was attacked by the RJD Leader Tejashwi Yadav. He had criticized the Nitish Kumar Government over the poor plight of stranded migrants following the April 14 incident.
However, the poor functioning of healthcare sector in Bihar makes it more problematic for the State to cope up with the expansion in figures of coronavirus positive cases and to provide healthcare facilities to the poor migrant workers during this epidemic.
The Bihar Government has taken great measures to provide aid to the migrant workers in its State and the isolation camps in other States. However, it has been unsuccessful at dealing with some loopholes like the April 14 incident, irresponsible behavior by healthcare personnel, etc.
Also, even if the Bihar Government would’ve dealt better with these issues, then also, the attempts to mitigate the harsh circumstances for migrant workers would be inadequate. It has been able to provide special assistance to those only who have ration cards but not to those persons who did not have ration cards but still needed assistance from the government like the ones who lost their jobs recently.
Also, the Bihar Government should provide a higher amount because Rs. 1000 is not sufficient to buy bread for the whole family for a month if it consists of 6 members or more who are adults and have enough food appetite.
Article Written By- Muskan Sharma
Law Student– Jamia Milia Islimia
(HRDI Work From Home Internship)
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 Bihar Epidemic Diseases COVID-19 Regulation 2020
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