Don't go home on foot: Palaniswami appeals to migrants

Tuesday 19th May 2020 15:49 EDT

Chennai: Chief Minister K Palaniswami has appealed to migrant workers stranded in Tamil Nadu not to undertake journey on foot to their home states and assured them that plans are afoot to facilitate the return of 10,000 migrant labourers every day. He pointed out that as many as 55,473 migrant workers have been sent to their home states, including Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and north eastern states in the last 10 days.

Against the backdrop of distressing reports of several migrant workers undertaking risky journeys on foot and the killing of 24 labourers in a road accident in Uttar Pradesh, Palaniswami said the 55,000 plus people were sent by 43 trains with the concurrence of the respective state governments.

"It has been planned to send about 10,000 migrant workers daily with the approval of the state governments concerned," he said. The Tamil Nadu government has been taking all steps to coordinate and facilitate their staggered journey based on the workers' choice and the permission of the respective state governments, he said.

Since the state government has been making all arrangements and bearing the transportation cost, including the train fare,"I appeal to migrant labourers to not undertake journey on their own either on foot or through other modes of transport." Palaniswami urged workers to stay put in their respective places in Tamil Nadu till such time they were sent by trains.

At least 100,000 migrant workers are stuck in several regions of Tamil Nadu, including Tirupur, Coimbatore, Chennai and Vellore and most of them want to be sent back home to their home states.

Liquor shops to reopen

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government has come up with a set of rules after the Supreme Court allowed liquor shops to reopen in the state. A token system will be implemented and only 500 tokens will be given at each liquor shop everyday. The shops will be open from 10 am to 5 pm and masks are mandatory for customers. There will be no sale of liquor in hotspots - Chennai and Thiruvallur besides malls and containment zones, the state said. Earlier, the Supreme court stayed an order by the Madras High Court that allowed only online sales of liquor amid the coronavirus pandemic. Other conditions for buying liquor such as showing Aadhaar card and limiting the number of bottles have been eased.

The Supreme Court also issued notice to the petitioners on whose plea the the high court had banned sale of liquor at shops. Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing Tamil Nadu, said the state has already put into place guidelines on social distancing and other safety measures.

"The problem is the high court imposed its own restrictions. The HC cannot encroach upon the domain of policy making. It is the state's prerogative how to sell liquor. Why should a person need an Aadhaar card to buy liquor? Why digital payment? It's impossible for the state to decide how to sell," Rohatgi said.

The Tamil Nadu government on May 8 approached the Supreme Court challenging the HC's order over the grounds that closing liquor shops would lead to "grave losses" in revenue and complete stop in commercial activities.

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