Chandigarh [India], May 19 (ANI): Directing the local administration and the police to remain on high alert in the wake of the lifting of restrictions, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday directed the Transport Department to draft SOPs for the resumption of local bus movement in all but the containment zones, but ruled out inter-state bus service till May 31.
The remarks came during a video conference chaired by Singh to review the COVID-19 and lockdown situation in the state.
While making it clear that inter-state movement will be allowed only on special and Shramik trains, at least till May 31, the Chief Minister said that buses will be allowed to ply within the state in a phased manner, according to an official statement.
He added that a list of SOPs, including daily disinfection of the buses, will be issued before the resumption of the bus service in the non-containment zones.
"The Chief Minister directed all departments to ensure close monitoring and strict adherence to all advisories. He asked the Police Department to be tough in ensuring social distancing and other necessary COVID-19 prevention protocols and to challan those stepping out without masks," the statement said.
Referring to the continued entry of migrants, NRIs and others via special trains and flights, the Chief Minister reiterated his earlier directions for strict adherence to their quarantine rules. So far, 60,000 Punjabis had registered for return to the state, he said, adding that 20,000 NRIs were also expected to return.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Satish Chandra said in line with the Centre acceding the state's request to do away with colour coding, the state will now have only containment and non-containment zones.
As of date, more than two lakh migrants of the 11 lakh who had registered on the special portal created by the government had left Punjab, the Chief Minister said.
"As many as 20 trains are leaving Punjab every day, with 15 scheduled for Uttar Pradesh and six for Bihar on Monday. Captain Amarinder said that while more trains were needed for Bihar, the state was not willing to take in people at this stage as their quarantine facilities were full," the statement said.
On being informed that the state was receiving requests from migrant labour from other states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to return to Punjab to work in the fields during the paddy season, the Chief Minister directed the Chief Secretary to work out the modalities for the same with the Centre.
All such workers shall have to be quarantined in the villages they would be working in, he said.
Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said that his department was collating data of migrants based on registrations made for travel, in line with the central government's directions on the distribution of rations.
On the issue of testing, the meeting was informed that in a week's time, the state would be able to scale up the number from the current 1,400 in government labs to 4,650 per day in just three government medical colleges, the statement said.
In the next 25 days, four more labs in the state would be ready for testing, with additional 1,000 per day capacity. This would be in addition to the central government and private testing capacities, it further said. (ANI)