Consent of destination states not needed: Railways on trains for migrants
Shramik Special trains, which began on May 1, are bound for a single destination without any stoppages. Usually, they have 24 coaches with each carrying a little over 50 passengers in place of the total capacity of 72.Updated: May 19, 2020 19:34 IST
The consent of destination states is not required for running Shramik special trains to ferry migrant workers, the ministry of railways said Tuesday revising its earlier order where it was mandatory for both states to mutually agree for running the trains.
This comes after the home ministry issued a fresh set of guidelines for running Shramik trains.
“Today MHA has withdrawn the May 1 circular and issued a separate SOP for railways. Now the implication is that the consent of the receiving state is not mandatory any more for running Shramik Special trains,” a spokesperson for the ministry of railways said.
Officials said the ministry aims to increase the capacity of running Shramik Special trains to 300 trains per day. “The last three days we have been running nearly 150 trains per day. There were some issues with states that were not giving the clearances for running the trains. We can run more trains per day, we have the capacity of doubling it,” a senior official said.
In its earlier guidelines the ministry had specified both the originating and terminating state will have to mutually agree before running the Shramik special trains.
In guidelines issued on May 2, the railway ministry had said, “The sending and receiving states may consult each other and mutually agree to the movement by rail. The originating state will finalise the requirement of special trains in consultation with receiving states and communicate the requirement of special trains to the nodal officer of railways. Railways will endeavor to plan and run the special trains based on the requirement given by the originating state subject to availability of the rolling stock.”
Earlier today, the home ministry also issued a fresh standard operating procedure of the movement of stranded migrant workers by trains. “Movement of Shramik Special trains shall be permitted by the ministry of railways in consultation with the ministry of home affairs. All states/UTs should designate nodal authorities and make necessary arrangements for receiving and send such stranded persons,” the guidelines said.
The train schedule, including stoppages and destination shall be finalised by the railway ministry based on requirements of states.
There has been a constant tussle between the Centre and states over the issue of running the Shramik Trains.
The Centre had complained that some states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan - which have a significant migrant population in other states - were not giving permission for the migrant trains. The accusation has been denied by the states. According to railway ministry data, reviewed by Hindustan Times, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have taken the maximum number of trains thus far, 641 and 310, respectively, followed by Madhya Pradesh (89), Jharkhand (56) and Rajasthan (25).
Among originating states, where the trains departed from, Gujarat has sent the most (496) followed by Maharashtra (266) and Punjab (188), thus far. The railways till Monday has run more than 1400 Shramik special trains ferrying nearly 18.5 lakh migrants.
Officials clarified, states will have to share the requirement for the trains with the railway ministry and make suitable arrangements for sending and receiving people.
“Train schedule; protocols for entry and movement of passengers; services to be provided in coaches; and arrangements with states/UTs for booking tickets shall be publicized by the railway ministry,” the MHA guidelines said.
At present, to book a Shramik Special train once both states agree, clearance is sought by the ministries of home affairs and then the railways. “Once the clearance is received the ministry of railways provides the train and the tickets for the total number of passengers to the state government,” a senior railway ministry official said requesting anonymity.
After the necessary clearance is provided, the sending state has to make arrangements of buses for taking the migrants to the nominated railway station.
On an average each train requires nearly 70 to 80 buses to ferry the migrants, the official added. A similar process is followed once the train reaches the terminating station of the receiving state. The local DM arranges for the buses to take the migrants to their villages and then put them under home-quarantine as per the state government’s protocols, the official added.
The railways, in its earlier guidelines, had also said the Shramik trains are being run only for those who have been cleared by the originating state in consultation with the receiving state. It had said that the originating state will indicate the number of passengers traveling in the train followed by which the railways will print the tickets and hand them over to the local state government.
“The local state government authority shall handover the tickets to the passengers cleared by them and collect the ticket fare and hand over the total amount to the railways,” the guidelines had said.
It is not clear yet, if this payment structure decided by the railways will also be revised. The payments for the fares was left to the understanding of both the states to decide, officials said. In some cases, the originating states paid, in others the destination states did, in some it was shared while in some cases the migrants were made to pay.