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Reverse migration raises new concerns

Local self-government institutions (LSGIs) in the State have gone on an overdrive to further step up the quarantine and allied health-care facilities in anticipation of a reverse migration from the Gulf countries once the air links are resumed post lockdown.

Local Administration Department sources told The Hindu on Sunday that rural local governments had already identified 2,364 buildings in their purview for setting up isolation centres. Urban local bodies too have located about 3,000 buildings. At present, they are engaged in the task of setting up beds and other amenities.

“All the funds and functionaries at the command of the local bodies are now being channelised for setting up beds and other facilities in the event of a crisis. If the State has to face another wave of virus spread in the face of a reverse migration from the Gulf and other countries, the local governments are prepared to handle the challenge. Accommodating one-lakh persons will not be a daunting task in the current context,” sources said.

Such initiatives are being taken up at a time when the prime revenue sources of local bodies such as rent, entertainment tax, building tax and such others have virtually dried up following the virus outbreak.

The rural and urban local governments have virtually emerged as the pivot of the virus containment initiatives in the State. Kerala being a pioneer in devolving funds and functionaries to the local bodies, a majority of them were able to take the plunge once the government made the decision to open community kitchen and monitoring of persons in quarantine.

“After opening 1,314 community kitchens across the State, local bodies are distributing food to about 2.5 lakh persons a day. They have also rehabilitated about 3,000 street dwellers and are attending to the needs of 2,36,851 persons who have been quarantined. Most significantly, counsellors have been engaged to help the victims overcome their emotional distress and so far it has come to the aid of 1,98,000 persons,” sources said.

All these are being done in addition to their routine tasks such as maintaining public health and hygiene and disinfecting public places. The Kudumbasree has already opened 215 budget hotels for providing meals at ₹25 and more would be opened within a fortnight, sources said.

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