To 'revive economy', Karnataka govt cancels special trains for migrants
A few hours after Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa 'requested' migrant labourers to stay back, the state government decided to cancel all trains arranged to transport migrants to other states.
The state government Tuesday wrote to the South Western Railway (SWR) withdrawing their request to arrange for train services scheduled for Wednesday.
According to the letter sent by N Manjunatha Prasad, the nodal officer for migrants in Karnataka, the train services scheduled to begin from Bengaluru to Dhanapur in Bihar at 9 am, 12 noon and 3 pm on May 6 were requested to be cancelled. The cancellations were made even as thousands of migrants have been stranded in the city.
On Tuesday, even as 1199 passengers boarded the Shramik Special train from Chikkabanavara railway station on the outskirts of the city, several others who walked over 35 kilometres to reach the railway station were stopped near approach roads as they had not pre-registered.
Earlier on Tuesday, representatives of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI) had met CM Yediyurappa after which the CM said, "The COVID-19 situation is in control in Karnataka when compared to other states. Industrial, construction, and trade activities need to be resumed outside areas marked as red zones. Hence, labourers may avoid unnecessary travel back to their natives."
When asked whether the meeting had influenced the government's decision, a senior officer told indianexpress.com, "The state needed these migrant workers to stay back to do their part in reviving the economy. CREDAI representatives had informed the CM that labourers were falling for rumours resulting in them rushing back home. However, no reason has been communicated by the government yet on cancellation of these trains."
Meanwhile, an SWR official clarified that the Railways has no role in cancellation of the trains. "The Railways act only as facilitators to the state government in operating Shramik Special trains. It is the concerned state government that advises the Railways on the requirement of services, identifying destinations, passengers, and obtaining all other clearances necessary for the travel," the official said.
"The Railways is in charge only to arrange all logistics and to observe initial screening, social distancing, and provision of food among others in railway stations and in trains.
The first Shramik Special train left Chikkabanavara for Bhubaneswar in Odisha on Sunday, after which three other trains, two Bihar-bound, and another to Jharkhand, departed from stations on the city outskirts on the same day.
On Monday and Tuesday, four more trains were arranged — to Jaipur (Rajasthan), Danapur (Bihar), Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), and Barkakana (Jharkhand) from Chikkabanavara and Malur stations.
Over 9,000 migrant workers had left the city in these trains since Saturday.
The state government had arranged BMTC buses for migrants who had pre-registered themselves for the travel to reach the railway stations on the outskirts of the city.
(Inputs and image from theindianexpress.com)