Representational image. | Image Courtesy: Telegraph India
Patna: Dozens of migrant workers in a quarantine centre in Bihar’s Katihar district on Friday refused to eat lunch after insects were allegedly found in the food served to them. The migrants have requested the local administration to allow them to go for home quarantine instead so that at least the food that they eat is safe.
According to reports, angry migrant workers at Bareta quarantine centre under Falka block in Katihar threw poor quality food while some others dumped it in a nearby field.
The protesting migrant workers said this was not the first time they had found insects in the food served to them. “A few days ago, insects were found in dinner. Then, too, we had created ruckus but nothing has been done,” said Suresh Kumar, one of protesting workers in quarantine.
Block Development Officer Rekha Kumari said that the in-charge of the quarantine centre has been asked to ensure clean and fresh food to migrant workers in quarantine centres.
In a similar incident, migrant workers protested at a quarantine centre in Banka district on Friday. They alleged that the authorities were not providing proper food and there was lack of safe drinking water. “We are being treated like animals. We are being forced to sleep on the floor with no electricity during summer months.”
Both the incidents are a reflection of the simmering anger among thousands of migrant workers lodged in quarantine centres across Bihar over lack of basic amenities, contrary to repeated claims made by the Nitish Kumar government.
According to Rupesh, who runs Koshish, a non-governmental outfit and actively works among migrant workers, these two incidents are not isolated ones. There are reports of over a dozen such incidents where angry migrant workers in quarantine have staged protests and even turned violent. “They have been compelled to protest against the ill treatment and negligence at quarantine centres,” he added.
There are also reports of some migrant workers fleeing quarantine centres due to the poor food and lack of basic facilities.
This is contrary to the repeated claims made by top officials in Bihar and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s directive to provide facilities at quarantine centres for migrant workers who have returned from other states.
As of today, more than 16,000 quarantine centres have been created at block level in all 38 districts of the State.
According to officials, more quarantine centres will be set up in the view of the increasing number of migrant workers arriving in the state. At present, more than 12 lakh migrant workers are staying in quarantine centres. “It is a big challenge to manage them,” an official said.
Till Friday, more than 29 lakh migrant workers had arrived in Shramik Special Trains to Bihar, from stats such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Karnataka, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
As of Thursday, Bihar had 3,312 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 17 deaths reported. So far, the state has tested 66,000 samples in the seven COVID-19 testing facilities in the state. According to officials, 2,168 migrant workers who had arrived in Bihar from other states over the past 25 days had tested positive for COVID-19.