Social distancing goes for a toss as migrant workers swarmed the civil hospital to get themselves medically screened before leaving for their home states in Shramik Special trains in Amritsar on Wednesday.(SAMIR SEHGAL/HT)
Social distancing goes for a toss as migrant workers swarmed the civil hospital to get themselves medically screened before leaving for their home states in Shramik Special trains in Amritsar on Wednesday.(SAMIR SEHGAL/HT)

Mismanagement to the fore as migrants miss train to Bareilly in Ludhiana

What followed was a war of words between the district administration and the railways, as officials blamed each other for the lapse.
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Amarpal Singh, Ludhiana
UPDATED ON MAY 07, 2020 12:36 AM IST

Caught up in mistimed procedures, 60 migrants narrowly missed the Shramik Special train to Bareilly, which departed at 10.58am on Wednesday after a delay of three hours.

What followed was a war of words between the district administration and the railways, as officials blamed each other for the lapse.

The Ludhiana-Bareilly Shramik Special Express was to depart at 8am. For this, the administration had sent text messages to the shortlisted passengers around 10.30pm on Tuesday, asking them to report at their nearest pick-up points by 4am on Wednesday.

As many as 1,200 migrants turned up at 28 pick-up points across the city, following which 50 buses ferried them to the Amar Shaheed Sukhdev Interstate Bus Terminal for medical screening before taking them to the railway station.

However, amid sheer mismanagement, the screening took more than the anticipated time, not allowing buses to leave for the railway station in time. Consequently, the train was halted for hours till all migrants reached the station.

The administration arranged medical screening at the railway station’s entry point as well to speed up the process.

But, the train was suddenly signalled to leave at 10.55am, with three buses ferrying 60 migrants still waiting outside.

An official from the administration deployed at the station intervened and contacted a railway official over the phone, questioning him why he was not intimated about the departure of the train, causing harassment to the passengers still in line.

In return, the railway official blamed the administration for delaying the train’s departure by nearly three hours.

Eventually, it was decided to accommodate the migrants left behind whenever the next train is planned to Bareilly.

TRAIN TO JHARKHAND ALSO DELAYED BY TWO HOURS

Anxious moments were also palpable ahead of the departure of another train to Daltonganj in Jharkhand at 12pm, which was also delayed by over two hours. Waiting outside the railway station in their respective buses for hours, the passengers were allowed to walk in only around 11.30am. According to railways, 1,188 passengers left for Daltonganj in the train.

With this, five special trains have left from Ludhiana and Jalandhar on Tuesday and Wednesday with 5,426 passengers in all.

SIX HRS OF OVERNIGHT PLANNING FOR TRAIN’S DEPARTURE

After the first Shramik Special train left Ludhiana for Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, at 10.15pm on Tuesday, the government machinery had just six hours to ensure arrangements for the train scheduled to leave for Bareilly at 8am on Wednesday.

From arranging transportation, food, medical screening and boarding, the various departments spent a sleepless night to ensure the migrants successfully boarded the train.

Over 1,200 persons, including 900 police personnel, 150 railway employees and others from the district administration, municipal corporation, health department and roadways, put in concerted efforts.

Catching just a few hours of shut-eye, police personnel from different stations were deployed at 28 pick-up points at 3am to help migrants board the buses while ensuring social distancing. Apart from this, police force, along with around 100 Anti-Riot Police personnel, were deployed near the railway station to maintain law and order.

Employees of the MC, roadways and health department were tasked with conducting medical screening and transporting the passengers from pick-up points to ISBT to railway station starting 5am.

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