In one-off special train, migrants travel from Telangana to Jharkhand
Today, nearly 40 days after coronavirus-linked lockdown started, a special train was arranged from Telangana to ferry migrant workers to Jharkhand on a special request of the former's state government. The locomotive started from Lingampally to Hatia and the 24-coach train carried over 1,000 people. While a usual compartment seats 72 people, only 54 were allowed to sit in a compartment of this train.
Lockdown shattered migrant workers, they started walking home
Migrant workers have been the worst-hit due to the lockdown. Stuck without any savings and jobs in bigger cities, they wished to see their families. However with modes of transportation shut, they had no option but to walk home. This week, the Ministry of Home Affairs green-lit their return and asked states to co-ordinate among themselves. Yesterday, Rajasthan sent thousands of them home.
The journey began at 5 am, train won't stop anywhere
The special train started its journey at 5 am. With no stoppages on the way, it's expected to reach at 11 pm. It will cover Ballharshah, Nagpur, and Raipur on the way. RPF has been asked to maintain social distancing. Before the migrant workers hopped on, they were screened and the coaches were sanitized too. Food and protective gear have been taken care of.
Everything about this train was kept secretive
The decision to ferry migrants was kept low-key as the governments, both Centre and state, didn't want a redux of the Bandra incident, where thousands of workers gathered with the hope of being sent home. When asked if more such trains will be arranged, South Central Railway chief spokesperson Rakesh said, "It is one-of-its-kind special train." He added more such orders weren't passed.
This is how they were sent off
A Respectful farewell.— Marya Shakil (@maryashakil) May 1, 2020
A special train from Lingampalli in Telangana to Hatia in Jharkhand on request of Telangana Govt as per the directions of Ministry of Railways leaves with 1200 migrants from Sangareddy.
Similar requests have been made by other State Govts pic.twitter.com/90GTSzbAxL
BJP was facing immense pressure over migrant crisis
Reports suggest another train will be arranged from Kerala's Ernakulam to Bhubaneshwar in Odisha. The Central government had been receiving a lot of flak for letting migrants suffer. BJP's Chief JP Nadda was told by MPs and MLAs that this approach could damage the party's prospects in future elections. On Monday, the Centre told Supreme Court it was concerned about the plight of workers.
Hemant Soren asked Jharkhand residents to not panic
Meanwhile, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren asked people to not panic. "I assure all students, migrant workers, and other people stranded in other states amid lockdown that our administration will soon contact you and help you in coming back to the state," he said. Earlier, Health Minister Banna Gupta pointed out that Jharkhand lacks resources to help its residents, hence, Centre must step in.
Sending them home is a mammoth task
Reports claim that 10 million (1 crore) migrant workers are stranded across the nation and ferrying them while maintaining social distancing guidelines, will require 500,000 buses. With folded hands, the workers have been asking governments to help them. One migrant, who walked from Telangana to Nagpur, said the helpline numbers didn't do them any good. They have neither food nor shelter.
We want to meet our families: Worker
Maharashtra: Migrant workers reached Nagpur on foot from Telangana amid #COVID19 lockdown. They say,"We contacted govt helplines but received no help from any govt. If some helpline answered they said nothing can be done.We had no foodshelter there. We want to meet our families" pic.twitter.com/mVaZOMzd4B— ANI (@ANI) May 1, 2020