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Assam to Provide "Free Travel" for 41,000 Citizens Stranded in other Districts

Assam to Provide "Free Travel" for 41,000 Citizens Stranded in other Districts

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Guwahati, April 24, 2020:

Assam Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today said that around 41,000 people without vehicles who are stranded within the state and wish to go back to their own districts will be facilitated by the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) for one-time travel on April 25, 26, and 27.

The one-time travel will be "free", Sarma said, adding the the corporation will be later reimbursed for the expenses incurred in transporting people.

Sarma further said that 100 e-taxis and 30 ASTC buses will be allotted to ferry the citizens to 5 points across Guwahati where the buses will ply from.

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Sarma further informed that 51,402 calls have been placed by vehicle-owners to the DCs in Assam to allow passage to other districts.

12,206 passes have been issued for travel on April 25, and 19,000 passes have been issued for April 26 and 27. A further 19,745 requests have been rejected as they did not meet the "emergency" requirement.

ALSO READ: Assam Steps up Vigilance in Dhubri & Kokrajhar Districts amid Rising COVID Cases in West Bengal

Sarma said that the lines have now been suspended.

However, Sarma added, the service will continue until the stranded people are all rescued. "If need be, we will take 3-4 days to rescue them. They won't have to make inquiry calls. They will receive the ticket on the day they are to receive the ticket", he added.

Sarma also said that a person can enter a "redzone", but cannot leave the 5 districts that have been designated as red zones by the centre.

In the same breath, Sarma acknowledged that the Medical Colleges have once again opened their doors to non-COVID patients.

However, Sarma urged non-emergency patients not to visit the medical centres in the midst of the crisis.

Sarma also announced that the Government is launching a new scheme, Dhanantari, to address the concerns of people who are unable to procure medicines. If the medicines are not available within a 10 km radius, Sarma said, the MPW workers or ASHA workers will ensure that the medicines are supplied to people at their doorstep.

If the price of the medicine is below Rs 200, there won't be any need to pay it. However, in case the price is above Rs 200, the person in question will have to pay for the medicine. For medicines that must be brought from other states, Sarma said that a one-week period must be allotted so that the consignment can be ferried to Assam.

The Minister further informed that 391 students from Kota in Rajasthan have been brought back to Assam. Eight policemen were airlifted to Rajasthan to guide the students home. Upon reaching Assam, the batch of students will be quarantined in Sarusajai or Srirampur. They will be tested subsequently.

It may be recalled here that Sarma announced earlier this week that on April 25, 26, and 27, the Government will allow the inter-district travel for certain categories of people who are stranded amid the nationwide lockdown that will finally be lifted on May 3.

However, Sarma said that the “inter-state travel” with be subject to certain conditions and will require the permissions of the Deputy Commissioners of the respective districts. Sarma said that the travel will have to be either “home bound” or “office-bound” for the stranded people. Patients will also be allowed movement to other districts, subject to "prior permission" from the DCs.

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