New Delhi, May 11 : The Centre on Monday directed all states and Union Territories (UTs) to allow ‘Shramik’ special trains to operate without any hindrance within their jurisdiction and facilitate faster movement of stranded migrant workers to their native places.
The order followed the Centre’s ongoing measures to facilitate bus and train facility to thousands of migrant labourers who have been stranded in various shelter homes and their work places and have been trying to get home as they do not have job to survive in cities due to the ongoing lockdown imposed to break the chain of novel coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic since March 24.
As the Lockdown3.0 will last till May 17, to ease further hardship on the stranded migrant labourers, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all states for the faster movement of this population.
“I urge upon you all to allow receiving of all Shramik special trains without any hindrance and facilitate faster movement of stranded migrant workers to their native places,” the letter mentioned.
The order followed Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba’s meeting on Sunday with the Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries (Health) of all states and UTs through a video conferencing that reviewed the facilitating of movement of migrant workers in buses and ‘Shramik’ special trains.
The states and the UTs have been requested by the Centre not to allow movements of migrant workers walking on the roads and on railway track and in case they are found in such conditions, they should be “appropriately counseled, taken to nearby shelters and provided with food and water till such time they are facilitated to board the ‘Shramik’ special trains or buses to their native place”.
Further as requested by the Cabinet Secretary, the letter read, all states and UT governments should “cooperate with the Railways in running of more number of Shramik special trains so that travel of stranded migrant workers is facilitated at a faster rate”.
The Indian Railways has operated 428 ‘Shramik’ special trains since May 1 and ferried home more than 4.5 lakh migrants stranded in various parts of the country amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown, officials said on Sunday.
The officials have said that out of the 287 trains which had been run already in the first nine days, 127 terminated in Uttar Pradesh, 87 in Bihar, 24 in Madhya Pradesh, 20 in Odisha, 16 in Jharkhand, four in Rajasthan, three in Maharashtra, two each in Telangana and West Bengal, and one each in Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh till May 9.
These trains have ferried migrants to various cities in different states like Tiruchchirappalli, Titlagarh, Barauni, Khandwa, Jagannathpur, Khurda Road, Chhapra, Balia, Gaya, Purnia, Varanasi.
Every ‘Shramik’ special train has 24 coaches, each with a capacity of 72 seats. However, only 54 people are allowed in a coach and the middle berth is not allotted to any passenger to maintain social distancing norms.