Mamata ups ante on migrant workers’ issue, seeks Rs 10,000 cash transfer to each
The West Bengal government has had several disagreements with Railways over the handling of Shramik special trains.Updated: Jun 03, 2020 20:11 IST
Amid an ongoing blame game between the state’s ruling party Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruling at the Centre, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday advised the Centre to transfer Rs 10,000 to the bank accounts of each of the migrant workers.
“People have been facing economic hardship of unimaginable proportions bcz of the ongoing pandemic. I appeal to Central Govt to transfer ₹10,000 each as one-time assistance to migrant labourers including people in the unorganized sector. A portion of PM-CARES could be used for this,” Banerjee wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
Later in the evening, she said that “some people from outside” were trying to incite the state’s migrant workers against the state government and urged the workers “not to fall in their trap”.
“We had transferred Rs 1,000 to 4.5 lakh migrant workers, spending Rs 45 crore. Our state has taken care of the entire expenditure of 235 trains to carry back migrant workers, spending another Rs 25 crore on this account. Besides, Rs 4 crore was spent as bus fare and another Rs 11 crore in intra-state transport to send them back home. In contrast, other states took train fares from migrant workers,” Banerjee said.
During a meeting with the officials in different districts, Banerjee asked them to look for alternative employment for migrant workers who had returned to Bengal.
Following her demand of direct cash transfers, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national secretary Rahul Sinha said the chief minister was trying to divert the attention from the mismanagement in bringing back migrant workers from other states.
“The Centre had to push the state government to allow special Shramik trains to bring back stranded workers to West Bengal. BJP did not incite the migrant workers. They were angered by her apathy. She is trying to skip her responsibility of finding these workers alternative jobs,” Sinha said.
According to the state government, more than 8.5 lakh people, mostly migrant workers, have returned to Bengal so far and another 1.5 lakh are expected to enter the state in a few days.
TMC has been alleging that the crisis of the migrant workers was created by the Centre’s “unplanned lockdown announcement.” The chief minister had also alleged that the railways’ move to send trains packed with migrant workers – with the middle berths occupied – has led to a spike in Covid-19 virus among the migrant workers, ultimately resulting in the spread of the disease in rural Bengal.