Trains arrive in Kerala 'unannounced', state government unhappy with Centre
The Left-run Kerala government has slammed the Centre for sending the trains carrying migrant workers to the state without proper communication. The Railways want to be the "super spreader" in the state, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac tweeted. On May 24, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had written to Railways Minister Piyush Goyal after a train was sent from Mumbai, without the state receiving appropriate details.
From May 1, the Centre started Shramik special trains to help migrant workers, worst-hit due to coronavirus-induced lockdown, reach home. These trains, however, sparked a political war-of-words. The Centre claimed it was doing enough for workers, but it were the state governments, mostly run by non-BJP parties, which didn't ask for more trains. Earlier, Maharashtra claimed Centre wasn't entertaining their request for more trains.
Meanwhile, Vijayan said his state wasn't given details of the train bound for Thiruvananthapuram. "We want to take special measures with regard to those coming from places where there are many cases. We have not turned away anybody. Our only request is that passengers coming in these trains register with the Kerala government portal and that the Railways share their details," the CM said.
Hours after Vijayan flagged his concerns to Goyal, another train was lined up to depart from Mumbai for Ernakulam. This time too, the state wasn't kept in the loop and the train was canceled after Kerala's officials intervened. Passengers who had arrived 2-4 hours earlier at the Thane station were furious. They had come from Thane, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
"We were told Kerala government canceled the train due to lack of quarantine facility. It was so disappointing to hear this, as a few days ago the Kerala government said they are equipped with a quarantine facility for four lakh migrants," a passenger told HT.
Subsequently, Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that if trains arrive without proper communication it would "derail all the arrangements made to quarantine people and contain the spread of the virus in the state". Kerala, from where the initial cases of COVID-19 were reported, has 964 cases. Only six died, garnering the state applause for handling the pandemic well.
As it turns out, most of the coronavirus cases reported from Kerala recently are imported. On Tuesday, 67 fresh coronavirus cases were reported. Of them, 27 were repatriated Indians, 33 returned from other states, and seven were the primary contacts of those infected. Vijayan stressed that the government needs a list in advance to help the administration make necessary quarantine arrangements.
A train came from Mumbai last week. We were intimated only after train started . Unscheduled stops. Majority of passengers no passes. Anarchy in pandemic times.Railways want to be super spreader in Kerala. Stop ranting and behave responsibly. At least try to track your trains.— Thomas Isaac (@drthomasisaac) May 26, 2020