Hyderabad: After the Telangana government cancelled its free quarantine services for those returning home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, people now have to pay for hotel quarantine facilities. According to the Emigrant Welfare Forum, about 14,500 were asked to pay Rs. 8,000 per person as hotel quarantine charges. However, many did not have the money.

Under the Central government's Vande Bharat Mission, launched on 7 May to repatriate Indians stranded abroad, 46,488 passengers have arrived at the Hyderabad International Airport so far. According to the forum, around 20,000 migrants have arrived at Hyderabad airport from the Gulf countries.

The Telangana government has provided free quarantine to about 5,353 migrant workers who came from the Gulf region. However, it has now withdrawn the free facility claiming it is not possible to follow social distancing in the quarantine centres.

Jakkula Thirupathi, a resident of Cherlapalli village in Mancherial district, is among those who are finding it difficult to pay the hotel quarantine services. He went to Dubai two years ago looking for work and spent Rs. 2 lakhs in the process. Unfortunately, he could not get the driver's job as was promised by the company and had to work as a construction worker for very little money.

Jakkula Laxmi, Thirupathi's wife, said, “He was stranded in Dubai for the past four months without work due to the coronavirus situation. He struggled for food, accommodation, and lived in the streets. He borrowed money from some people to buy a flight ticket and finally landed in Hyderabad on 10 August. He was quarantined in a hotel in Gachibowli.” The couple have two kids - an 11-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter.

Laxmi wrote to the tahsildar and the executive magistrate of Jannaram mandal, Mancherial district, with the help of Pravasi Mithra Labour Union, asking for financial assistance to pay the quarantine charges. She told them 16 August was the last date to pay the amount.

The Emigrant Welfare Forum is demanding the government allow migrant labourers who are coming from Gulf countries to undergo home quarantine. “The governments of Kerala and Maharashtra are allowing home quarantine for people who have returned from abroad. The governments of Andhra Pradesh and Delhi are providing paid hotel quarantine as well as free quarantine to the poor migrant workers who have come back from the Gulf region. We demand the Telangana government allow those returning home to undergo home quarantine,” said Bheem Reddy Mandha, the president of the forum.

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