Nagaland chief secretary Temjen Toy addressing the media on Monday at the Secretariat conference hall in Kohima

Kohima: With the extension of the nationwide lockdown, the government of Nagaland has issued new guidelines permitting the inter-district movement for stranded persons in distress. The government informed that as the whole state of Nagaland falls under the green zone as per the Central government, the inter-district movement will be initiated in a “regulated manner”, for which separate guidelines will be issued.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, chief secretary Temjen Toy said that although the lockdown has been extended for two weeks, inter-district movement is being relaxed for stranded persons in distress. He reiterated that the inter-district movement is only for people who are stranded across various parts of the state and are in need to return to their respective district or hometowns.

Toy informed that a video conference was held with all deputy commissioners (DCs) and superintendents of police (SPs) on Sunday. Toy directed them to identify stranded persons in all districts to facilitate the inter-district movement. “There were issues that some villages/areas not allowing their people to come back. So, instructions have been passed on that they need to be allowed. There is no basis to refuse the entry, and should there be any opposition or not allowed [to enter], appropriate action will be necessitated as movement within Nagaland is absolutely no problem,” Toy said.

As per the new guidelines, since all parts of Nagaland fall under green zone as per the ministry of health & family welfare, “There will not be quarantining of persons entering a district or town or village from within anywhere in Nagaland.”

Through a cabinet meeting on Monday, it was decided that stranded persons in distress who have no means of transportation will be transported to the respective districts by the Nagaland State Transport (NST), the travel expenses for which will be borne by the state government. Toy informed that a separate guideline will be notified and the issue to regulate the inter-district movements will be completed by the first week of May.

However, inter-district movement of commercial passenger vehicles shall remain barred except for vehicles carrying goods.

The chief secretary also said that taxis and auto rickshaws will be allowed to ply within the respective districts on condition that there shall not be more than two and one passenger(s) respectively. Since taxis and auto rickshaws are permitted with minimal passenger, he said that all district administrations were directed to regulate the fares to ensure that there is no price hike in fares and shall be as per the rates prescribed before the lockdown.

The drivers and passengers are also required to wear masks and the driver should make mandatory provision for hand sanitizer failing which the permit will be cancelled. Movement of passenger buses like the city buses will continue to be prohibited.

Toy added that the taxi and auto rickshaw permits shall not be applicable to the 14 border administrative sub-divisions — Dimapur sadar, Nuiland, Dhansaripar, Siethiekema circle, Jalukie, Bhandari, Mangkolemba, Tuli, Tamlu, Naginimora,Tizit, Pfutsero, Meluri and Jakhama, as the inter-state borders continue to sealed in toto.

“We are safe now,” he said expressing contentment of being in a green zone. He added that although the virus might have entered the state [referring to the first positive case], “it does not exist now”. “The only danger is for the people returning to the state from outside. That is one area of concern but we are working on a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP),” he said.

He further informed that the state government is in touch with the other states, and organisations like the railways and airlines on how best to bring back the stranded people to the state.

He then added saying that although Nagaland is marked in the green zone, it is not in a position to take hasty decisions and will be framing certain guidelines to ensure that the state remains protected from the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19.

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