indian railway to ply special trains to ferry migrants amidst lockdown
India – In order to make serious amendments of the wrongs done in the previous two Covid-19 waves, the Indian government has urged all state governments to ensure there is arrangement of special trains for migrant workers, who many find themselves without transport, in possibly lockdown situations.
The Indian Railway has been asked to comply and states like Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are specifically being focused upon. These are primarily the states from where the largest migrant population moves towards the metro cities for work.
Additionally, the railways will be plying four special trains every week from states imposing restrictions on mobility and lockdown to the states of origin of the migrant workers, to prevent a 2020-like situation when lakhs chose to walk all the way back to their villages.
According to a formal statement by officials, the states are already apprised about this decision and will need to adhere to a timeline. That means, that such trains will need to start plying two days in advance to the possible situation of lockdowns across the states. These trains will be kept on standby and this has been communicated to zonal heads too, so that there is less distress caused to the poor migrant population that primarily depends on local transport to cover their distances.
While the number of cases are on the rise, there is no adverse effect been reported amongst the migrant working groups. Sources said that the Railways plans to first start operating special trains from stations in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Secunderabad, as these cities were reporting rising number of COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks. These special trains will observe all the COVID-19 protocols and carry out thermal scanning of all passengers. The trains will be run at subsidized fares, with state governments paying part of the fare to ensure that migrant workers do not face any problems in booking tickets, another senior government official said.