Indians stranded abroad evacuated for free; migrant-workers asked to pay
The Centre on Wednesday allowed inter-state movement of stranded migrant workers via buses. Two days later, special trains were also allowed to ferry the workers. However, what seemed like a long-delayed relief exercise for the workers has turned out to be a do-over of the mistreatment they have faced since the lockdown was enforced as they were made to pay to be taken home.
Railways Ministry asks states to charge passengers
The Ministry of Railways on Sunday issued guidelines for the operation of 'Shramik Special' trains, that have been allowed to ferry stranded persons. The guidelines mention that the Railways will print train tickets to the specified destination for passengers allowed to travel by the sending states. The local authorities will hand over tickets to passengers and collect ticket fare for the Railways.
Train fare priced at sleeper class ticket plus Rs. 50
For journeys over 12 hours, the Railways will provide one meal, the guidelines stated. The sending states shall issue food/water at the originating station. Earlier, it was said that the cost for each passenger would include the fare of a sleeper class ticket and an additional Rs. 50. The additional fare included Rs. 30 for superfast charge and Rs. 20 for food/water.
In Kerala, passengers pay for tickets, state pays for food
According to NDTV, migrant workers traveling to their homes in Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, etc., were asked to pay the train fare. The passengers were provided with food kits by the state government through the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
Migrant workers also made to pay for bus tickets
In Bengaluru, workers awaiting transport at the Majestic Bus Terminal on Saturday were reportedly made to pay double and triple the fare, up to Rs. 1,400 per person, ANI reported. Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa later ordered that only one-way fare should be collected. The state has now announced free intra-state bus travel for laborers till Tuesday.
Government paid for flights rescuing Indians stranded abroad
In contrast, Indians stranded in coronavirus-hit countries abroad, who were rescued via special flights, did not have to pay for their journeys. A source in the Ministry of Civil Aviation told News 18, "Air India operated these flights and as a public sector undertaking (PSU), it raised a bill. The cost is paid by the government of India."
Government paid Rs. 6 crore for just 2 such flights
For the two consecutive rescue flights evacuating Indian students from Wuhan on January 31 and February 1, the government paid Rs. 6 crore to Air India, as mentioned by Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan in the Lok Sabha.