The West Bengal government has agreed to allow eight trains to bring migrants home from four states, the Railway Ministry tweeted today. It said Bengal had until now allowed only two “Shramik” special trains to enter the state – one from Rajasthan and the other from Kerala.
“After request of Hon’ble HM, today afternoon WB has approved 2 trains from Punjab, 2 from TN, 3 from Karnataka & 1 from Telangana, which are being arranged,” the Railway Ministry tweeted.
After request of Hon’ble HM, today afternoon WB has approved 2 trains from Punjab, 2 from TN, 3 from Karnataka & 1 from Telangana, which are being arranged.
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) May 9, 2020
The Trinamool Congress, however, said that earlier the Home Minister’s letter to the Bengal government was false, that the state had already arranged for eight trains to bring back 32,000 migrants over the next few days. Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee tweeted saying, “Prove your fake allegations or resign.”
A HM failing to discharge his duties during this crisis speaks after weeks of silence, only to mislead people with bundle of lies! Ironically he’s talking about the very ppl who’ve been literally left to fate by his own Govt. Mr @AmitShah, prove your fake allegations or apologise https://t.co/HeWYWFafZ5
— Abhishek Banerjee (@abhishekaitc) May 9, 2020
The railways said it has so far run over 300 trains, mainly for states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh, among others.
Some 1,200 migrant workers reached Dankuni in Bengal on May 6 in a train that came from Rajasthan. The migrants were screened for coronavirus with thermal guns before their onward journey to their districts.
The government had only allowed travel by road but states pointed to challenges in transporting lakhs of people across hundreds of kilometres in buses, with social distancing a particular concern.
As a result, “special” trains were allowed, with strict rules to be followed regarding disinfection of coaches, screening of passengers and maintaining social distance during travel.
Each “Shramik” train carries between 1,000 and 1,200 people to ensure social distancing. All passengers are screened for symptoms before boarding; only asymptomatic people are allowed, the railways have said.
The first “Shramik” train left Telangana’s Lingampally last week. Bound for Hatia in Jharkhand, it carried 1,200 migrants from Hyderabad and reached its destination later in the day.