Never talked about charging migrant workers for transport, says Centre
Amid reports that migrant workers were asked to pay to be sent home across states, the Centre on Monday said that it had never talked about charging them for the transport. The Centre said the 85% of the ticket fare was to be borne by the Railways Ministry and the remaining 15% by the state governments. Here are more details.
Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said on Monday, "Neither the government nor the Indian Railways have mentioned charging migrant workers for transport." Further, Agarwal said that the special trains are only intended for certain cases and other migrants must remain where they are. He said the Railways bears 85% of the cost of the transport while state governments bear the rest.
Agarwal was responding to a query on the subject during the government's COVID-19 press briefing. An Indian Railways representative is expected to offer further clarification on the subject at Tuesday's press briefing.
Railways Ministry's 'Shramik Special' guidelines issued on Sunday stated, "The local state government authority shall hand over the tickets to the passengers cleared by them, collect the ticket fare and hand over the total amount to the railways." Earlier on Monday, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra tweeted, "I have attached guidelines of MHA which clearly states that 'No tickets to be sold at any station.'"
Rahul Gandhi ji,— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) May 4, 2020
I have attached guidelines of MHA which clearly states that “No tickets to be sold at any station”
Railways has subsidised 85% State govt to pay 15%
The State govt can pay for the tickets(Madhya Pradesh’s BJP govt is paying)
Ask Cong state govts to follow suit https://t.co/Hc9pQzy8kQ pic.twitter.com/2RIAMyQyjs
Agarwal was also questioned about the lockdown relaxations extended to liquor stores, which led to long queues. He said every citizen has a social responsibility. He also said that all guidelines must be diligently followed even when the lockdown is eased.
Agarwal said the coronavirus cases in India are now doubling over a period of 12 days. Citing data tabulated till Monday morning by the Health Ministry, he said 1,074 people had been cured in the past 24 hours—the highest number of recoveries in one day. Agarwal also said that India's testing capacity was not falling short and over 57,000 tests were conducted on Sunday.
As of 5 pm on Monday, India has reported a total of 42,836 cases: 1,389 deaths, 29,685 active cases, 11,761 recoveries, and one migrated patient. Speaking at the presser, Agarwal said, "The (outbreak) curve is relatively flat, as of now."
Amitabh Kant, NITI Aayog CEO and Chairperson of the Empowered Group-6, said 112 backward districts under the Aspirational Districts' program reported only 610 cases. Kant highlighted that these districts are home to 22% of India's population and have reported only 2% of the cases. Only the districts of Baramulla, Nuh, Ranchi, YSR, Kupwara, and Jaisalmer reported over 30 cases, he said.
Kant also said that the Aarogya Setu app has launched a telemedicine feature. The app has been installed 90 million times on the Google Play Store, he said. He also said that an Aarogya Setu app will soon be released for feature phones as well.
When asked about the state of the economy, Kant said, "We will have to wait and see how the economy takes off as the supply chain opens up." Kant also said that the Empowered Group-6 has mobilized over 92,000 NGOs/CSO to help state governments and district administrations in the fight against COVID-19. He said the group also mobilized various United Nations agencies.