The Assam government has announced conditional inter-district travel for certain categories of people for three days, starting April 25. This will be in strict accordance with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines.
“This does not mean we have given blanket permission for movement across districts,” said Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, addressing a press conference in Guwahati, “There are different conditions, and movement will require prior permission from Deputy Commissioners.”
The relaxation applies to different categories: patients requiring medical treatment, stranded citizens who are home-bound or office-bound and wish to travel by their own vehicles, and contractors/employers who need to transport their employees to their workplace.
“From April 24, Assam will be opening its medical colleges and hospitals. Therefore, there will be many who want to visit the medical colleges for treatment,” said Sarma about the first category.
H. Sarma added that relaxation is also applicable to migrant workers who have to move inter-district for work, for example at brick kilns. “This movement will be allowed a one-time to the workplace. For that, the contractor can hire a car to transport them. Again this will require prior permission from the DC and will be in compliance with MHA guidelines.”
The fourth category is of those who do not have their own vehicles. The government is arranging a fleet of Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) busses to ferry stranded passengers to their home districts on April 25, 26 and 27 on designated routes. “Preference will be given to students, women and the elderly,” said Sarma, adding that those wishing to apply can call 104.
Due to the overwhelming response on 104 for the inter-district public transport requests for medical emergencies etc you may also alternatively click on this link and fill up your details.https://t.co/pcls6ofDhD
If you have filled up the form you need not call 104
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) April 22, 2020
In all cases, Sarma said, prior permission from the DCs are mandatory. “We have taken this step on humanitarian grounds,” Sarma said.
Assam private schools to waive 50 percent fee for April
The minister also said that all private schools have been directed to waive fifty percent of their school fees for one month. “If any school wants to reduce the fee further, it is up to them,” added Sarma.
According to an order from the state Secondary Education Department on Wednesday, “Every education institution has to waive 50% of their monthly school/college fees exclusively meant for the Month of April 2020 to the students studying in any class from pre-primary to Class XII.”
“As long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, no schools will be allowed to increase fee without prior approval of the government. No private school will cut the salary of their staff — teachers or karmacharis,” said Sarma, warning that if any school flouted the order, it might face closure by the government.
The state government has organized free COVID-19 tests for journalists at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital on April 25. Assam has reported 34 positive cases, out of which 19 have recovered and one has died.
“We have conducted 5,789 tests to date. We await results of 214,” said Sarma, adding that these included tests from Meghalaya and Mizoram too.