60 lakh migrants ferried at cost of Rs 600 per person on Shramik Specials: Railways
The average cost of fares for migrants aboard Shramik Special trains was Rs 600, the Railway Board chairman said on Monday adding that the national carrier ferried nearly 6 million migrants indicating it has generated revenue worth around Rs 360 crore.
The Indian railways have recovered only 15% of the total cost of operating the Shramik Special trains while the rest was borne by the national carrier, Railway Board chairman VK Yadav said at a virtual press conference. “The fare was charged as per the normal sleeper fare of a mail express train,” he said.
A spokesperson for the railway ministry clarified that the national carrier spent around Rs 3,400 per person for operating the trains.
Since May 1, the Indian Railways has operated 4,450 Shramik Specials ferrying over 60 lakh migrants back home, he said. The railway ministry has sought additional demand from states for ferrying remaining migrants back.
“Only a few migrants are left now as most have reached home. We will continue to coordinate with state governments to send the remaining migrants back. We had asked state governments to send us their demand of remaining trains on June 3 and we received a demand for 171 Shramik Special trains from various states…We ended up running 222 Shramik Special trains till June 14. After the Supreme Court’s order we have again sought their need from the state governments to meet the additional demand,” Yadav said.
As of now, a total of 63 more Shramik Special Trains have been demanded by various states following the Chairman of Railway Board’s letter to the states. A total of seven states; Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir have sought the trains to ferry remaining migrants, according to the railway ministry.
Speaking on deployment of Covid Coaches amid rising cases and demand by some state governments, Yadav said the Covid isolation coaches are meant to be used when the health infrastructure of various states gets exhausted due to the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases across the country.
Suspected and confirmed Covid-19 patients will be kept in separate Covid Coaches wherever they are allocated as per the guidelines issued by the health ministry, he said.
The Railways, has so far received a demand for coaches from Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and the Delhi government. The rest of the deployment will be done as and when states demand them, he added. The isolation coaches will be under the complete care of the chief medical officer of the state government, in the states where they will be deployed.
The Railway Board chairman said it is more suitable to use non-AC coaches for isolation purposes of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patients. For cooling, wherever required the Railways will provide roof insulation in the coaches, he added.
For national capital Delhi, at least 50 coaches with around 800 beds have already been stationed at Shakur Basti railway station. “We have earmarked 500 coaches for Delhi and we are jointly working with the Delhi government to finalise locations. A joint team is working on it. The main objective is that Indian government and state government should work as a team and see that we succeed in fighting the pandemic,” Yadav said.
Around 180 coaches are scheduled to be placed at the Anand Vihar railway station and some other stations on Tuesday and five pairs of trains running to and from the station will be diverted to the Old Delhi railway station, a Northern Railways spokesperson said.
So far, no isolation coaches or beds are in use in Delhi, officials said.
The demand for the special coaches has come nearly two months after they were prepared. Trains with a composition of 10 coaches and patient capacity of 16 people have been made ready by the railways. A total of 5,231 coaches were modified to be used as ‘Covid Care Centres.’
The first such Covid Care Centre was deployed at Shakur Basti railway station in New Delhi on May 31 consisting of 10 non-AC coaches with 160 beds and three AC coaches, for healthcare staffers, including doctors.
The Centre in May had drafted a plan to deploy 5,231 railway coaches as isolation wards across 215 stations in 15 states considering the possibility of an increase in cases of Covid-19.
The railway board had written to zones in May seeking to take back 60% of the Covid-19 coaches to be utilised as Shramik Special trains.