Maharashtra has few migrants left after 11.5 lakh return home, 8 Shramik trains cancelled
The Maharashtra government, as on Friday, has managed to send back nearly 11.5 lakh stranded migrant workers to their home states, mostly onboard around 800 Shramik Special trains that started operating on May 1, a senior IPS officer from the state police told HT. The officer added that not only a very small number of migrants are now left to be sent back, but also many of the remaining migrants are now cancelling their return trip after receiving assurance of regular food and work from employers.
The police said that most of the stranded migrants who had registered to return home by Shramik special trains from Maharashtra have been dispatched except those from West Bengal since trains to the state were suspended due to the state government’s preoccupancy with the destruction caused by super cyclone Amphan. Police said they, too, would be sent back soon.
“Registration of new applicants for Shramik special trains has dropped drastically and hardly any migrants are now registering. We have observed that even those migrants who had registered for Shramik special trains are now backing off and opting to stay back in the city as their employers have assured them regular work and supply of food. As a result of this, many Shramik special trains had to be cancelled. On Thursday 11 trains were supposed to start from Mumbai, but as migrants backed off, only 3 trains operated,” said a senior police officer.
Amitabh Gupta, principal secretary (special) and head of the three member committee formed to oversee the stranded migrants issue in Maharashtra confirmed the development, “The Mantralay staff--over 1,400 state government employees-- who were given the task to assist police force in the registration process for the migrants, have been asked to return to their office after May 31 as very few stranded migrants are left in the city.”
Lakhs of migrants faced tough times in the state after a nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24.
After the announcement of Shramik Special trains, the procedure for registering migrants by Mumbai Police started on May 2. Busses were also used to send migrants home. The first bus with migrants left on May 4 for Rajasthan from Mumbai.
Desparate to go back home, many migrants started gathering in areas outside railway stations. And as a result, the city witnessed chaotic situations outside Bandra and Kandivali railway stations and also in Dharavi in the last two weeks. Thousands of migrants along with their families had to spend nights outside the stations after trains were cancelled without prior intimation.
Nearly 20 stranded migrants died in various accidents in the state during the ongoing lockdown. This includes 16 deaths in Aurangabad when a goods train ran over migrants sleeping on railway tracks during the night. A 58-year-old woman from Vasai also died while waiting for her token pass for the Shramik Special train to Uttar Pradesh’s Jaunpur.
Film actor Sonu Sood, too, has helped several migrants reach home by arranging transport for them.
Lakhs of poor migrants left for their states on their own. While some hired private vehicles many chose to walk.
No senior police official from Mumbai Police, state intelligence department and law and order department of the state police could provide information on the number of migrants/labourers who had left the state on their own without any government assistance. Senior IPS officers said they did not maintain such data.