2020-05-21 00:09:00
Indian Railways

NEW DELHI :
The Indian Railways has run 1,813 ‘Shramik Special’ trains since May 1 and ferried over 22 lakh migrants back home, the national transporter said on Wednesday.

Of the 1,813 trains, 301 trains are in transit and 1,512 have arrived. More than 143 trains are in the pipeline, the railways said.

Most migrant trains have terminated in Uttar Pradesh (912), followed by Bihar (398). As many as 583 trains originated from Gujarat and 320 from Maharashtra.

The operation of these trains has, however, led to a political mud-slinging, with the opposition accusing the Centre of charging fares from migrants and the central government criticising some states having non-BJP governments for allegedly not providing permission for the special trains to run.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, in a tweet, said 204 trains were run on May 19.

“Yesterday, the railways had promised to run 200 special trains for workers, beyond that we have run a record 204 trains in the service of passengers,” Goyal tweeted.

The national transporter had said on Tuesday that it no longer needed the consent of the destination states to operate such trains.

The central government has issued a standard operating procedure which said that for running such trains, permission will be given by the Ministry of Railways in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Over the last few weeks, the Centre has alleged that some states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, which have a significant migrant population in other states, were not giving permission for the special trains, resulting in lakhs of migrant workers walking towards their homes.

While the states have denied the allegations, data has shown otherwise.

The new rule of bypassing the destination state will significantly ease the movement of migrants, the officials said, adding that the railways will need approval only from the originating states.

The railways had also said that it would operate 200 non-air conditioned second class sleeper trains from June 1 to help migrants reach their homes.

In a statement, it urged the migrants not to panic and said efforts were being made to ensure that all of them were able to travel to their home states at the earliest.

“Efforts will be made such that they will be able to board trains from the railway station head on mainline which is close to their existing location,” it said.

According to the officials, while the railways has the capacity to run around 300 trains per day, it is operating half of that number because destination states are not sending an adequate number of approvals.

A ‘Shramik Special’ train carries around 1,700 passengers, instead of the earlier 1,200, to ferry as many workers home as possible.

Initially, these trains had no scheduled stoppages during the journey, but the railways now allows up to three stoppages in the destination states.

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