State needs 250 more trains to take remaining migrants back homeUpdated: May 22, 2020 00:24 IST
After 441 special Shramik trains took 5.81 lakh migrant workers to their home states, the state government needs additional 250 trains to ferry the remaining migrants. The government will spend Rs 67 crore on running these special trains, of which Rs 54.76 crore have been released from the state exchequer.
Over 61, 000 migrants in 51 trains returned to their respective states in the last 24 hours till Thursday evening. About 170 trains departed from Mumbai stations, including CST, Bandra, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and Borivli. According to government estimates, another 2 lakh plus migrants have registered to return to their hometowns.
“Highest number of the trains, around 225, was sent to Uttar Pradesh, followed by Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. We have a list of migrants who wish to go to North Indian states and West Bengal. We will need at least 250 more trains to depart over the next week. We have been getting more requests besides the ones registered after the lockdown,” said an official from the relief and rehabilitation department.
Home minister Anil Deshmukh, in his statement on Wednesday, said that the state government has been bearing the cost of the fare. The state had transferred Rs 12.44 crore to various district collectors to pay the Railways for the tickets. The government had earlier released Rs 54.76 crore for the purpose.
Ruling parties in Maharashtra and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have been engaged in a spat over bearing the cost of the ticket fares. BJP leaders claimed that 85% of the cost is being borne by the Centre, while the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders said that the entire cost was paid by the Maharashtra government.
BJP state spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said that the Centre was charging only 15% of the cost of running special trains for the migrants. “Special trains are run without any subsidy during normal times and are also running at lesser occupancy. Hence the cost of running these trains is more and what is being charged to the state is 15% of the cost,” he said.
Meanwhile, over 20,000 buses have been used to ferry more than 3 lakh migrants to the railway stations and borders of neighbouring states.
Around 3.25 lakh migrant workers, stranded people and homeless, are staying in 3,500 shelter camps set up across the state.