27 Shramik trains depart from Maharashtra on TuesdayUpdated: May 27, 2020 00:51 IST
Even as the state and the Union railway ministry continued to blame each other over the issue of Shramik Special trains for migrants, 27 trains left from various stations across Maharashtra until Tuesday evening with migrant workers to their hometowns.
The railways said it was ready to operate 145 Shramik trains to ferry migrant workers back to their hometowns in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Kerala. However, in the evening, Union railway minister Piyush Goyal evening tweeted that of the 85 trains that were scheduled to be leave the state by 6pm, only 27 had been operated “due to non-arrangement of passengers by the state government”. “I request the Maharashtra government to please help us to take the poor labourers to their homes,” part of Goyal’s tweet read.
According to Central Railway (CR), the first train left from the state at 12.30pm.
“Eighteen trains had to depart from Maharashtra by noon, but the departure could not happen owing to lack of passengers. The first boarding for the train started at 12.30pm. The passenger movement is very slow on part of the state government.” said Shivaji Sutar, chief public relation officers, CR.
Home minister Anil Deshmukh however, has alleged that the railway ministry sent 34 Shramik trains to ferry migrants to West Bengal despite the eastern state requesting Maharashtra government not to send any trains until Tuesday in the wake of Cyclone Amphan. Deshmukh has said that WB chief secretary Rajiv Sinha had written a letter to the railway ministry on May 22 over the issue. “Now rail minister Piyush Goyal is blaming Maharashtra for not departing the trains notified to originate from our state. He should not indulge in this cheap politics,” Deshmukh has said.
Maharashtra transport minister Anil Parab has also slammed the Centre and alleged that the trains were scheduled at the last minute to defame the state government and to depict its incapability. Parab has said that Maharashtra had sought 172 trains over the next few days, but after chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s address, in which he said the trains are not enough, the railway ministry sent a schedule at 2.30am on Tuesday for trains to depart from Maharashtra before 12 noon.
“The Railway ministry had sent the schedule at 2.30am for trains that left Maharashtra before 12pm the same day. The police personnel have been under stress owing to the Covid duty. It is not possible for trains to depart before 12pm at such a short notice. This has been done to defame the Maharashtra government and to show that the Centre is providing trains but the state is not able to send migrants,” Parab said in a video statement.
The minister also alleged that the railway ministry provided 43 of the 48 trains together sought by the state, despite knowing that only two trains would leave for West Bengal due to the weather condition there. “In all, we had sought 48 trains for West Bengal to ferry migrants in the coming days, but 43 trains were scheduled for departure on a single day. The West Bengal government had requested us that only two trains daily will be allowed to enter to the state owing to the weather conditions there and we had accepted their request. By scheduling 43 trains, the Centre wants to portray that they want to provide trains but the Maharashtra government does not have the administrative strength to send migrant labourers.”
Even as confusion over the departure of the trains prevailed, hundreds of migrant workers along wih their families gathered outside Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus(LTT) and waited In queues to enter the railway station premises.
State minority affairs minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Nawab Malik On Tuesday night asked Goyal to stop playing mind games. “Mr @PiyushGoyal, you said that you have alloted 49 trains for migrants from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus in Mumbai. The DRM at LTT says only 16 trains can be released.You must come clear on this issue, stop playing dirty politics and mind games. People have gathered there hoping that all 49 trains will leave as promised by you. You must now make sure that all 49 trains take these migrants to their respective destinations,” the minister tweeted.