COVID-19: Over 100 stranded Sikkimese to come back from Tamil Nadu
Gangtok: Around 100 people from Tamil Nadu were facilitated to travel back to Sikkim by the State Evacuation Cell on Tuesday. The special train for the Sikkimese people was facilitated in tandem with Mizoram, who is also ferrying their students, informed State Nodal Officer and Agriculture Secretary Rinzing Chewang Bhutia, claiming that the numbers could increase or decrease depending on the cancellation.
Similar facilitation is being carried out for stranded patients and their families from Vellore in Tamil Nadu with 27 of them travelling on a single bus.
As on May 7, Tamil Nadu had a cumulative figure of 311 Sikkimese people with 83 students, 28 patients, 4 medical workers and 196 others. Among the students, around 52 students from Excel Group of Institutions in Tamil Nadu are being ferried in 2 buses from the state.
Closer home, around 27 students from Kolkata were facilitated by Sikkim in tandem with West Bengal government. “These students are coming on their own expense and they have finalized a big 63-seater bus bringing them home, maintaining social distance amidst the travel. They are being considered for an onward journey from Siliguri, West Bengal probably on an SNT bus on Wednesday, depending on their arrival", informed an official from SNT Department working in the State Evacuation Cell.
The evacuation cell has been trying to facilitate people opting for self-sponsored travel from various other states similar to how Dehradun, Uttarakhand facilitated their return on Monday with 34 scheduled to reach Siliguri by Wednesday. On the other end, the officials informed that they are trying to facilitate travel for Sikkimese people stranded in Gujarat as well.
"As on May 7, we had identified around 176 people in Gujarat with the breakage being 6 students, 2 patients, one medical worker, and 167 being others. Around 160 have been contacted; we are working with motor vehicle officials there along with the State Nodal Officers to facilitate their return with the train being considered with others returning to the North Eastern States or even buses as per their urgency".
State Nodal Officer Bhutia asserted on the evacuation cell and the State government’s decision to facilitate Siliguri first, to create more room for Sikkimese people from other States. "Siliguri has been more or less facilitated with around 1000 people being brought back to the State. There were many unauthorized commuters taking the number to 1100. We have so far received 1600 odd registration from Siliguri alone. All those remaining will be facilitated within the next 2 days, to create room in Siliguri for others coming from other states". Collectively, West Bengal has 1979 Sikkimese people including 224 students, 128 patients, 139 medical workers among others.
Elsewhere, the State Evacuation Cell also facilitated the return of 56 students from Arunachal Pradesh on May 11. "They were facilitated with 2 buses for their commute and the same was in tandem with many other North Eastern States who had Arunachali students. We were also planning to bring back our students studying in NERIST, Itanagar. We had contacted 15-17 of them after they registered with State government’s portal but the same could not be facilitated". As on May 7, Arunachal Pradesh had 18 Sikkimese people stranded with 10 students and 8 others.
In Assam, health minister Himanta Biswa Sharma was not in tandem with Sikkim, owing to its dependency on Siliguri, West Bengal for commute, as the region is in a red zone. State Nodal Officer Bhutia stated, "There has been no such trouble with Guwahati or Assam at large, the journey to the Sikkim not being beyond 500-600 km, the train journey is not being considered but a bus journey could be facilitated in the days to come". As on May 7, Assam had 94 Sikkimese people.