Uttarakhand’s Ghost Villages turn into quarantine centres for returning migrants

Abandoned houses in Pauri district’s ‘ghost’ villages, called so as they have become empty after their residents left them, are proving useful for the administration which is converting them into quarantine centers for migrants returning in droves to Uttarakhand.          

Block Development Officer (BDO) of Rikhnikhal block in Pauri district S P Thapliyal said that in view of the huge influx of people coming from outside the state, the utility of the abandoned houses on the peripheries of deserted villages becomes immense.

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He added that these houses have been lying vacant for years now due to poor infrastructure, lack of employment, and difficult living conditions, and the same has been cited as the reasons for the mass migration of locals from such villages.

At least 576 migrants have been quarantined in the abandoned houses in the Pauri district which has the highest number of ghost villages in the state at 186,  Thapliyal said.        

Migrants coming from outside are being mandatorily quarantined for 14 days by the state government either at home or at centres set up for the purpose as a precautionary measure.        

Such houses are being cleaned up, sanitized, and converted to serve as quarantine centres in addition to the panchayat Bhawan and school buildings where also migrants are being quarantined, the official said. With the return of a large number of migrants amid the ongoing COVID-19-induced lockdown from outside the state and shortage of places to quarantine them, abandoned houses are being used as quarantine facilities, he said.              

Many migrants are returning to their villages after decades and their ancestral homes are either totally destroyed or dilapidated.           

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They are being kept at panchayat Bhawan and school buildings mainly but in some cases, if the number of returnees is high or the location of the quarantine centre is not appropriate, the migrants are being taken to the ghost villages after ensuring proper sanitization measures, the official said.

A total of 19,846 migrants had reached 1,049 gram panchayats of Pauri till May 13 and the influx continues, the district information office said.

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