Over 1 lakh migrants ferried in more than 100 Shramik Special trains: Railways

Till Tuesday, Gujarat sent the maximum number of such trains (25) to other states, while Bihar received the most (13). Kerala has sent 13 trains, according to internal railways ministry data.
Shramik Special trains, which began on May 1, are bound for a single destination without any stoppages.(Santosh Kumar/ HT photo)
Shramik Special trains, which began on May 1, are bound for a single destination without any stoppages.(Santosh Kumar/ HT photo)
Updated on May 06, 2020 03:55 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAnisha Dutta

Over 100,000 stranded migrants have been ferried in more than 100 Shramik Special trains since the beginning of the services on the first day of this month, according to the railways ministry.

Till Tuesday, Gujarat sent the maximum number of such trains (25) to other states, while Bihar received the most (13). Kerala sent 13 trains, according to internal data of the ministry.

Other originating states include Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajashthan, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab. States where trains have terminated include Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

Till 1pm on Wednesday, 22 trains have already left originating stations, taking the number of trains ran till afternoon to over 100. Twenty more are likely to be deployed during the day.

Eighty-eight special trains were operated by the national carrier across various zonal railways till Tuesday; most of these mainly originating from Bengaluru, Surat, Sabarmati, Jalandhar, Kota and Ernakulam, a ministry official said.

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 in place of the total capacity of 72. These trains will run for distances of over 500km with at least 90% occupancy.

A controversy has erupted over these trains with opposition parties alleging the Centre was forcing migrants to pay for ticket fares for their return to their home states.

In its guidelines issued on Sunday, the railways ministry said state authorities shall collect fares after distributing tickets among migrants who are boarding these special trains, and hand over the amount to the Indian Railways.

The railways has also said it will charge sleeper class fares and an additional Rs 50 for one point-to-point journey, while it also added that states can coordinate and pay on passengers’ behalf.

In response to the Opposition’s criticism, the Union government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the railways was bearing 85% of the fare cost, and states had to pay 15% to allow migrants return home free of cost.

Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh tweeted on Wednesday that the railway ministry should “come clean on how it is charging full fare from every single migrant labourer travelling back home. All claims that the Centre is picking up 85% of the tab are completely false! Such complete lack of empathy for the poor is unheard of”.

Generally, the railways recover about 57% of cost of travel on an average and the remaining is given as subsidy. On an average, it pays 43 paise per rupee for each ticket as subsidy. This is not a traditional subsidy, but is instead cross-subsidised from the money railways makes from its freight operations.

Another controversy erupted on Tuesday, after the Karnataka government cancelled 10 trains from the state planned over the next five days. The trains were scheduled to ferry passengers to Bihar.

Tejasvi Surya, Parliament member from Bengaluru south, said the state’s move will eventually benefit the workers.

“It will help migrant labourers who came here with hopes of a better life to restart their dreams. Also, it will kickstart economic activities full throttle. Karnataka will emerge out of this stronger!,” he tweeted.

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Monday, January 17, 2022