Maharashtra government, not Centre funded migrant travel: Anil DeshmukhUpdated: May 17, 2020 22:48 IST
Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh has trained his guns at Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman for her statement that the Central government bore 85%of the train fare of migrants travelling back to their home states.
Deshmukh said that the entire fare is being borne by the state government, which has sent 2.92 lakh migrants in 224 trains to their respective states.
Deshmukh, who spoke to a news agency on Sunday, said that the Union finance minister’s claim was surprising.
“She has said that 85% of the burden of fare for trains carrying migrants to various states has been borne by the Central government. It is not true. After migrants were forced to bear the entire fare initially, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray requested the Centre to bear the entire cost instead,” he said.
“Since the Centre did not respond, the state government made provision of ₹55 crore from the chief minister’s contingency fund. We would not hesitate to allocate more if needed,” Deshmukh added.
The home minister said that other states have been hesitant about accepting their
citizens who are stuck in Maharashtra.
It was only after the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Thackeray spoke to the chief ministers of West Bengal and Bihar, the trains carrying migrants to these states started plying.
The second train to West Bengal departed on Sunday, against the need of at least 10 trains per day.
“Besides the migrants sent via rail, we sent more than one lakh migrants in 11,500 state transport buses to various states. We will need 700-800 special Shramik trains to transport the remaining stranded migrants. We are ready to pay if the Indian Railways is ready to make the trains available. The slow response from other states is posing a hurdle. We have at least 20 lakh migrants eager to go to their home states, but we are getting permissions for only 10% of the trains required,” Deshmukh said.
Additionally, the minister confirmed that the Centre has positively responded to Maharashtra government’s demand for deploying Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) to assist the Maharashtra Police which has been burdened with the workload.
He said that nine companies (about 100 personnel each) of CAPF have arrived and have been deployed in various parts of the state, including Mumbai and Pune — the cities worst affected by Covid-19.