The Assam government will open its borders with other states in the northeast from Sunday as part of efforts to facilitate the return of residents stranded in other parts of the country.
The move follows the state government’s exercise to transport people stranded within Assam by allowing inter-district movement. Since April 25, nearly 100,000 people have travelled in their own vehicles or buses to reach their homes and workplaces.
“From Sunday, anyone from Assam who is at present in other northeastern states [except Sikkim] can return to the state. The state’s borders are open for them. They don’t have to register or seek permission to return,” state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.
People can use their own vehicles to enter Assam. They will be screened at the borders of their home districts and placed in home or institutional quarantine.
“For those who don’t have own means of transport, we will send buses to pick them up within a few days. A notifications in this regard will be issued soon,” Sarma said.
Assam has also launched the helpline no 7428159966 to help the return of residents of the state stranded in other parts of the country.
“Those interested should give a missed call on the number. A link will be sent to them within 48 hours, which they will have to fill and send back. They will be intimated about details of their return by our teams,” Sarma said.
Nearly 600,000 stranded workers from Assam who had earlier made a similar missed call to receive Rs 2,000 as financial aid will not need to call again. A link will be automatically sent to their numbers.
Those who can arrange their own vehicles to return have been asked by the state government to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get a return pass.
“There are nearly 20 lakh residents of the state who are outside at present. Those who don’t need to return now can delay their travel by a few months. We won’t put any restriction on anyone wanting to return, but bringing back so many people is a tough task and can take several weeks,” Sarma said.
The state government will continue providing Rs 2,000 a month as aid to workers from the state stranded outside. Till Saturday, 255,000 stranded people had been provided this aid.
The government is setting up five quarantine facilities at Kokrajhar, Guwahati, Tezpur, Jorhat and Silchar for people returning to Assam. Hotels are being included as quarantine facilities for those who don’t want to stay at state-run facilities and want to avail of paid quarantine.
Sarma said the government’s move to fly back 852 patients from Assam undergoing treatment outside the state hit a roadblock after two cancer patients in Mumbai tested positive for Covid-19.
The government plans to tie-up with private laboratories to boost testing for those returning to Assam.
Assam has recorded 42 Covid-19 cases. One patient has died, 32 have recovered and nine are being treated. Nearly 11,000 tests were conducted till Saturday.
In an interaction with a small group of journalists, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said his government will decide on Sunday how it will implement regulations in the red, orange and green zones.
Unlike the Union home ministry’s guidelines allowing the movement of people and economic activities between 7 am and 7 pm, Assam is considering permitting these activities between 6 am and 6 pm.