70 trains bring 1.12 lakh migrants in a day in BiharUpdated: May 20, 2020 22:49 IST
A record 1.12 lakh migrant workers arrived in different parts of Bihar by 70 Shramik Special trains on Wednesday even as the state enters a challenging phase to quarantine them in the wake of Covid cases spreading to all 38 districts now.
This is the single largest flow of migrants in a day.
Government sources said this is just the beginning as for the next four days, more than a lakh migrant workers will return to the state, the highest (1.23 lakh) expected on May 21. “A record 77 Shramik special trains will run on Thursday,” said a government official.
“Over the next nine days, 574 more trains with close to 9.18 lakh people will be reaching the state. Till May 19, about 6.10 lakh migrants/people had reached state through 427 special / Shramik Special trains and buses. This means that Bihar, by May-end, would will received 15.28 lakh migrants/people,” IPRD secretary Anupam Kumar said. “This is the biggest ever evacuation drive,” said an official.
Officials of East Central Railway, of which Bihar is a major part, say that though the arrival of migrants is less than the average footfall of passenger per day, it is quite huge.
“Before the lockdown started, on March 23, a total of approximately 7.76 lakh passengers travelled by 165 pairs of mail/express trains either originating or passing through Bihar. Similarly 388 passenger trains also of which 108 run in Bihar alone,” said chief public relation officer (CPRO), ECR, Rajesh Kumar.
In addition to this, the state government is also running 4,500 buses to ferry migrants from one destination to other.
Railway sources said that most of these trains are running to full capacity. “Earlier, of the 72 berths sleeper coaches 54 passengers were travelling as we were not allowing use of middle coaches. Similarly, in LHB coaches, only 60 passengers were allowed in an 80 berth coaches. But now seats are being utilized,” said the CPRO, raising questions over social distancing.
An alarmed Bihar government is gearing up to face the rising number of cases of Covid-19 in the state, especially after trainloads of mostly asymptomatic migrant labourers came back and many of them tested positive. The state government has set up 7,840 block quarantine centres in which 5.45 lakh migrants are staying, said the IPRD secretary. “In addition to this, 76,500 people are also living in 151 disaster relief centres being run by disaster management department,” he said.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar has already directed officials to do random testing in districts and strengthen isolation wards at the block level with more beds and facilities, as the number is set to grow.
The focus has now shifted to the panchayat and block levels, as it is where the migrants will spend their mandatory 14 days at the isolation centres.
Date Trains No of passengers
May 20 70 1.12 lakh
May 21 77 1.23 lakh
May 22 70 1.12 lakh
May 23 74 1.18 lakh
May 24 68 1.08 lakh
May 25 54 86,400
May 26 52 83,200
May 27 47 75,200
May 28 62 99,200