22 migrant workers killed in road accidents across 5 states
Twenty-two people were killed in separate road accidents in five states on Tuesday, taking the death toll in such incidents involving migrant labourers to at least 162 during the lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Nine people died in Bihar, four in Maharashtra, six in two separate accidents in Uttar Pradesh, one in Jharkhand, and two in as many incidents in Odisha, according to state officials.
The accident in Bihar’s Bhagalpur took place when a truck with the migrants rammed a bus, which too was carrying labourers who returned on a Shramik Special train on Monday night. Four passengers in the bus, which was on the way to Banka district from Darbhanga, suffered injuries.
The truck, which was carrying iron poles, skidded off the road and fell into a ditch after the collision on NH-31 around 4am. The nine victims sitting atop were buried under the poles, Bhagalpur district magistrate Pranav Kumar said. According to the documents found in their possession, they were residents of east and west Champaran districts. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar expressed grief over the accident and announced a compensation of ~4 lakh to family members of each victim.
In Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district, three migrant labourers and a bus driver were killed and 22 others injured after their vehicle hit a stationary truck early on Tuesday, the police said. Among those injured, 17 were reported to be in a serious condition.
The accident took place at Kolwan village around 3.30am, when the bus was on its way from Solapur to the Nagpur railway station. The labourers were going there to board a Shramik Special train to reach their home towns in Jharkhand, additional superintendent of police Noorul Hasan said. The bus driver lost control and the vehicle hit a stationary truck carrying road construction material, he said.
In UP, two separate accidents involving migrant workers were reported. In the first incident, a truck carrying labourers overturned on the Jhansi-Mirzapur highway, killing three women — between 30 and 38 years — and leaving 17 others injured, the police said.
The accident took place at Mahuva crossing in Mahoba district. The labourers had returned from Delhi and boarded the truck near Harpalpur along the Madhya Pradesh border. The truck fell into a roadside ditch after a tyre burst.
In the second accident, three workers travelling in a car were killed when their vehicle rammed a stationary mini-truck in Azamgarh district. Superintendent of police Trivedi Singh said: “The accident took place in Jameendashav village under Atraulia police station when the driver of the car dozed off. As a result, he lost control over the car and rammed it into a stationary mini-truck.”
In Odisha’s Angul district, the driver of an LPG tanker was charred to death when a bus carrying 26 migrants on its way to West Bengal from Mumbai rammed into the tanker . At least 12 migrants sustained injuries.
A migrant worker of Balasore sitting atop a iron sheet-laden truck was killed when the vehicle hit another truck parked in front of a marine products export company. Another migrant worker killed as the trolley he was travelling in was hit by truck.
According to data collected by HT reporters, at least 162 migrants have died in such accidents since the beginning of the lockdown on March 25. In the past fortnight alone, 42 migrant labourers have died in two major accidents.
On May 8, a goods train ran over 16 people who were sleeping on the tracks in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad on their way back to their village in MP on foot. Then on May 16, 26 workers died after the truck they were travelling in rammed another vehicle in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya district.
The nationwide lockdown left migrant workers without jobs and a way to get back home. It was only in late April that some states started transporting their workers back from other states using buses and only on May 1 that the government started running special trains for them.
In a communication to states on Tuesday, the Union home ministry asked states and Union Territories to operate more Shramik Special trains in coordination with Indian Railways to ferry the migrants. “I appeal state governments to help the migrants, register their names and provide the list to the railways. I also appeal the migrants to stay where they are, and the Indian Railways will soon help them reach their hometowns,” said railway minister Piyush Goyal.
The home secretary also asked states and UTs to ensure that no migrant worker has to resort to walking on roads or railway tracks to reach their destination.
(With inputs from HTC in states and agencies)