Rs 24 crore spent on migrant trains, Rs 20 crore borne by railways: Official
The Ministry of Railways had run 34 ‘Shramik special’ trains for transporting migrant labour to their home states amid Covid-19 lockdown till May 3, a senior government official said on Tuesday.
The total estimated cost for all 34 trains that were run till Sunday was roughly about Rs 24 crore. Only 15% of the total Rs 24 crore was paid for by state governments while the remaining 85% was borne by the Railways, approximately Rs 20 crore, the official added.
With a subsequent increase in the number of ‘Shramik special’ trains in the coming days, the ministry is likely to incur thousands of crores on the transportation of migrant labourers to their native places.
A fierce political war broke out over the issue of train fare for the migrant workers returning home, with the Congress declaring that the party and its state committees would pay the fare to enable workers to return to their native places.
The Union government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed that the railways was bearing 85% of the fare cost, and state governments had to pay 15%, thus allowing migrants to go back home free of cost.
On May 1, the first train carrying 1,225 migrant workers was run from the Telangana’s Lingampalli railway station to Hatia in Jharkhand, after the Railway Ministry acceded to the request of the state government for facilitating their return.
It was the first special train to be run by the railways to ferry the stranded migrants since its services were suspended due to the coronavirus lockdown.