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New Delhi: To allay fears among migrant workers at relief camps, the Centre on Wednesday asked the chief secretaries of states and Union Territories to “reassure” them that local administration and charitable institutions would extend all possible help, even if their employers fail them.

This comes after the Supreme Court directed the Centre to provide adequate medical facilities, food, clean drinking water and sanitation at the facilities housing migrant workers.

“…trained counsellor or community group leaders belonging to all faiths will visit the relief camps, shelter homes and deal with any consternation that the migrants might be going through. This shall be done in all the relief camps, shelter homes wherever migrants are located in the country,” the central government directive stated. As many as 21,000 relief camps have been set up by states and UTs to house more than 660,000 migrants, the home ministry said.

“The anxiety and fear of the migrants should be understood by the police and other authorities and they should deal with the migrants in a humane manner. Help them to acknowledge that this is an unusual situation of uncertainty and reassure them that the situation is transient and not going to last long,” its guidelines stated. The Centre on Tuesday informed the apex court that migration of a large number of labourers working in the cities was triggered by panic created by fake news that the lockdown would continue for more than three months. This prompted the SC to advise that the media guard against publication of false news by relying on official information.

Home ministry officials directed the Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments to warn landlords not to harass migrant workers if they are unable to pay their rent for next month. The ministry said district magistrates, deputy commissioners and senior superintendents of police in states and UTs would be “personally liable for implementation of the directions and lockdown measures”.

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