'I wouldn't expect this level of migration to go on beyond Tuesday.'
'We expect the movements to come down to a trickle or even to stop at all these places.'
The National Disaster Response Force has stepped in to manage the massive migration triggered by the nationwide lockdown.
Satya Pradhan, director general of the NDRF, tells Subhomoy Bhattacharjee how his team is dealing with the situation.
What is your brief on the migration crisis?
It is to reduce the sense of fear among the people. We are there to make them feel that they shall get help.
The buses are there to ferry them. So we are also there to guide them in queues, try to ensure they maintain some physical distance among themselves.
Our big role, however, is to reduce the fear among the migrants.
Nationally, which areas are the hot spots?
There are three sets of critical places we have identified nationally. These are in Bihar, in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and on the Delhi-UP border.
We have put Anand Vihar under our Delhi battalion; Lal Kuan in Ghaziabad has been taken over by the Ghaziabad battalion; Benares battalion is monitoring Lucknow and the highways.
The Bihar battalion is at Gopalganj and Kaimur borders of Bihar with UP. They are also at the Tilaiya and Jamui border of Bihar with Jharkhand.
These are the places through which the steam of migration has been massive.
We started the crowd management operations since Saturday. Our teams were in position at these most crowded sites by early afternoon.
How long do you expect the rush to continue?
We have done quite a bit of analysis. I wouldn't expect this level of migration to go on beyond Tuesday.
We expect the movements to come down to a trickle or even to stop at all these places.
My force will be present at all these stations till it happens, which should be over in the next two-three days.
Were you prepared for this rush? It has been one of a kind!
We had been ramping our operations for quite some time. We had begun to orient the airport staff, mostly at international airports from 31 January onwards.
For instance when the first flight of students from Wuhan came over, we were there to assist the Bureau of Immigration.
We sent a team including doctors and paramedics who explained the procedure to the staff there about how to deal with the incoming passengers, the protocol to segregate the luggage carriers and so on.
This was institutionalised for all flights coming from abroad, subsequently.
We then used February to cover the sea ports too. So when this rush came we were prepared. I must add that this has been the biggest mobilisation of the NDRF, ever.