Lockdown 3.0: Battling criticism, Yediyurappa govt resumes train services in Karnataka to ferry stranded migrants

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Updated: May 07, 2020 4:49 PM

Covid lockdown: This comes just days after the state government decided to suspend the service to ferry migrants to their native states fearing that the mass exodus would lead to a manpower crisis, an issue that could derail its plans to restart the economy.

The Centre had allowed the movement of migrant labourers, tourists, pilgrims and students stranded at different places in the country.

Coronavirus lockdown: The Karnataka government led by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has decided to restart train services for migrant workers despite the ongoing nationwide lockdown, according to reports. The Karnataka government has written to Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, West Bengal and Rajasthan governments seeking their consent to operate trains to their states from 8 to 15 May for transportation of people stranded in the southern state.

This comes just days after the state government decided to suspend the service to ferry migrants to their native states fearing that the mass exodus would lead to a manpower crisis, an issue that could derail its plans to restart the economy. The BJP government’s move to suspend the service drew a political backlash for the Yediyurappa administration, something that appears to have compelled the government to take back its decision.

The Centre had allowed the movement of migrant labourers, tourists, pilgrims and students stranded at different places in the country. It, however, left it to states to coordinate among each other and devise a plan to facilitate the movement of stranded people.

The Centre, initially, allowed the movement through buses only. However, states started demanding the resumption of train services as the number of stranded people was in lakhs and it was not feasible and possible for the states to arrange and run buses with half of their capacity. The Bihar government admitted openly that it did not have enough busses to bring back its people from across the country as social distancing norms require them to operate with 50 per cent of their capacity.

Later, the Centre decided to run trains to facilitate the movement of migrant labourers. On May 1, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that the Centre had decided to run “Shramik Special” trains to move migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places due to complete lockdown imposed since March 25. Since then, a number of trains have operated facilitating the movement of thousands of people. These special trains have been running from point to point on the request of both the concerned state governments as per the standard protocols for sending and receiving stranded persons.

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