By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 28 May: There are reports of certain private hotels functioning as quarantine centres charging exorbitantly from the quarantined persons in the state. It may be recalled that the state government has made it mandatory for those arriving by flights to Uttarakhand to stay at the hotels functioning as quarantine centres at their own cost. As a result, some of the hotels are reportedly charging exorbitantly from the quarantined persons even if the persons may not be in a position to pay. Sources claimed that some of the persons have returned to the state from Mumbai or other places with their families and for them to stay in hotel quarantine facilities is proving to too costly.
Sources have also claimed that many of the persons were offered lower room rents by the agents when they arrived at Jolly Grant Airport but, once they reached the hotels, they were forced to shell out much more. The decision to make hotel quarantine mandatory is rather a strange decision considering that most states have not done so. Now, given the fact that, today, the Supreme Court has reprimanded the Centre as well as the state governments over exploitation of migrants, it is to be hoped that the government will review its decision. Already, some relaxations have been given in the case of old people and the children, yesterday, by the state government, but the hotels continue to exploit the quarantined guests.
It is also pertinent to mention here that some of the people who did not return to the state by air, but for whom institutional quarantine was mandated, have also preferred to stay at private quarantine centres particularly in the wake of reports of poor upkeep and maintenance of state quarantine centres and the quality of food being served there. There have been several disturbing reports in this regard and some deaths have also occurred at some of the state quarantine centres. One death was that of a young girl due to snake bite. Toilets are also not being allegedly cleaned regularly at these quarantine centres, forcing many people to go to private quarantine centres irrespective of whether they can really afford them or not! Besides this, some complaints have also been received regarding lack of food and other facilities at several hotels.
The government has also failed to fix rates or prices for boarding and lodging for the passengers forced to stay at hotels, which is open encouragement for the hoteliers to take undue advantage of the passengers.