Lockdown 4.0: Why many migrants returning to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar still can’t reach home

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Updated: May 21, 2020 11:17 AM

Migrant workers news, Shramik Special trains: In Bihar, over 8 lakh migrant workers have already returned since the beginning of the lockdown and more than 20 lakh are expected to come back in the next few days.

migrant trainsThe Centre is running Shramik Special trains to ferry migrants back home during the lockdown. (PTI Photo)

The lakhs of migrants returning to their native states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar may have managed to come this far, but reaching home is still a challenge. With the huge number of migrants returning, states have a difficult task at their hands — how to send them to their native villages? The Centre may have increased the frequency of the Shramik Special trains services to ease their return, but Bihar and Uttar Pradesh governments face a tough task in their bid to send them to their native homes and provide them employment.

Both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh governments have written to the Centre highlighting the difficulties they are facing in sending these people to their native villages. While Bihar has flagged capacity constraints, Uttar Pradesh has urged Delhi to run local trains to ferry people back home within the state.

Bihar Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar has written a letter to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla urging him to run special trains directly to the districts centres. Deepak said that to receive additional Shramik Special trains, the government wants those trains to carry migrants directly to their home districts and halt at the stations in those districts.

“If this is not followed and trains bring passengers from different districts, then it will create huge difficulty for the administration,” he wrote.

He said that the state can receive more trains if they are sent as proposed and underlined that ferrying these migrants to their villages via road buses is challenging as there may be chances of accidents.

“If the passengers are sent appropriately as discussed above, it will put less burden on us in transporting those migrant workers and in that case we can even receive trains every two hours, that is six trains per day in each route, which implies per day an additional 54 trains,” the letter said.

“The bus driver may be tired, and we have taken all the buses available, school buses and all, for the existing trains,” he said.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Kumar said that the state is handling around 50 trains per day as of now, which means around a lakh passengers in a day. He said consent is not a problem and everyone stranded should come home.

“We have told the Centre that if you want to give us more trains then send the trains as per our requirement, or else we will have difficulty in increasing the number of trains,” he said.

According to the state government data, since the beginning of the lockdown over 8 lakh migrant workers have already returned to the state and it is working in close coordination with the Centre to bring back over 20 lakh migrants, in about 800 trains, over the next few days.

Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, 100 special trains will run daily now that will bring migrants back. “After an agreement between Bihar and the Central government, altogether 800 trains will operate to bring back over 20 lakh migrants,” he tweeted.

Bihar has received 367 Shramik Specials so far and approval has been given for 575 more trains from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

The situation is similar in Uttar Pradesh where a sea of migrants are returning home daily. The state has received and is expected to receive the most number of Shramik Special trains. It has written to the Railways requesting to run MEMU trains on nine main routes to replace buses to ferry migrant workers to various districts.

Earlier this week, Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi wrote to Railways seeking MEMU trains for ferrying migrants to their native villages on nine routes connecting cities like Ghaziabad, Barabanki, Tundla, Kanpur, Varanasi, Shjahanpur and others.

The state has so far received around 900 of the 1,800 Shramik Specials that began operation since May 1.

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