Parbat Sees Return of Labour Force Following Relaxation in Lockdown Measures

The district has made quarantine period mandatory for all returning migrant workers to the district to keep a check on coronavirus infections.

Agandhar Tiwari

Migrant workers from across the country and various Indian cities have started returning to Parbat since the resumption of long-haul public transportation last week. To contain the possible outbreak of Covid-19, the District Administration Office in Parbat has made it mandatory for returnees to the district to spend 10 days in quarantine before returning to their job sites.

All development activities in the district had been put on hold for the last six months with at least half the labour force leaving the district during the initial phase of the lockdown. According to the District Coordination Committee, an agency responsible for overseeing development projects in Parbat, more than 6,000 workers employed in various development projects in the district are from outside the district and India. Among them, 3,000 workers went back home in March.

“We allowed the entry of the returning migrant force since construction works of most of the development projects have been stalled for almost six months now. Most of these projects may miss their deadlines if work does not resume soon,” said Shambhu Prasad Regmi, chief district officer in Parbat. “But we have ensured that health safety measures are followed by every project to protect their workers and curb the spread of the virus in the district.”

Local units have agreed to manage quarantine and isolation facilities to accommodate the returnees, Hari Pangeni, chief administrative officer of Kushma Municipality, told the Post.

“An all-party meeting was held in the District Administration Office on Monday where representatives of the development project management agency and construction companies were present,” said Pangeni. “All parties involved have agreed to ensure that safety measures are adopted at the project site.”

According to Pangeni, the respective construction companies have to bear the expenses for the PCR testing and quarantine stay of their workers.

“Local administration, peoples’ representatives of the concerned local units and local communities have agreed to allow migrant workers to work in development projects on the condition that safety protocols are followed,” said Ram Chandra Joshi, mayor of Kushma Municipality. “This is necessary to complete the development projects within the stated time frame.”

According to Ghanshyam Gautam, an administrative officer at the District Administration Office, the construction companies are responsible for conducting PCR tests of their workers and keeping them in quarantine for at least 10 days before sending them to work.

“We have directed the construction companies to inform the respective local units about its workers,” said Gautam. “We have asked the companies to keep the returnee workers in separate groups while they are deployed for work. Workers will also be advised to prevent unnecessary movement outside the project sites even if they test negative for coronavirus.”

Parbat has major construction projects, including electricity transmission lines, bridges, roads, hospitals, buildings of various local units, irrigation and drinking water projects, left incomplete because of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.

Construction works will now resume along the Kaligandaki Corridor, Mid Hill Highway, Kaligandaki Corridor Transmission Line, Madhyamodi and Tallo Modi Hydropower projects. More than 40 rural roads are being blacktopped whereas five motorable bridges are under construction in the district. The construction of a dozen drinking water and irrigation projects are also ongoing in the district.

Local units in Gorkha have also adopted similar measures to curb the spread of the virus with the return of the migrant force to the district. Every new entry to the district has to submit his/her PCR report before entering Shreenathkot in Ward No. 7 of Siranchowk Rural Municipality in Gorkha. The ward office released a public notice on Monday stating that the decision has been taken in light of the upcoming festival season.

“We will not only see the return of the migrant force but the district’s natives will also be coming home to mark the festival season,” said Suraj Dhakal, the ward chairman. “Individuals have to submit their PCR reports before entering the ward. They also have to stay in home quarantine for 14 days upon their return.”

According to him, those wishing to enter the ward without a PCR test report will have to stay in a quarantine facility of the rural municipality.

“A Covid-19 Counteraction Committee has been formed in the ward to prevent the possible outbreak of the virus. People from each household of the ward are included in the committee. A newcomer has to inform the committee members about their arrival,” said Dhakal.

Until now, the ward has conducted PCR testing of 15 individuals. All of them tested negative for the virus, said Dhakal.

Published on: 23 September 2020 | The Kathmandu Post


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