Railways receives over 1,000 approvals to run Shramik trains; UP allows the most migrants to return

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New Delhi, May 15 (PTI) The Railways has received more than 1,000 approvals from states in the last 15 days to ferry migrants home, with most workers being received by Uttar Pradesh followed by Bihar, according to the official data.

Among the migrant source states, West Bengal has approved eight trains, Rajasthan 23, Jharkhand 50 and Odisha 52, the data shows.

From May 1, the railways has run 932 Shramik Special trains, ferrying more than 12 lakh migrant workers who were stranded in various parts of the country due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, officials said on Friday.

The operationalisation of these trains have also led to political mudslinging with the opposition accusing the Centre of charging the fare from migrants.

The Centre has, however, clarified that the fare is being shared on 85-15 ratio by the railways and the state governments.

On Thursday, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had hit out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for not allowing migrants to return and appealed to all the states to give railways approval to run more trains.

The railways has said that it has the capacity to run 300 such trains per day.

'Under the leadership of PM @NarendraModi, the total number of Shramik Special trains approved till date is up to 1,000. Yesterday, the Indian Railways ran 145 Shramik Special trains to help stranded labourers to reach their native place.' Goyal said.

He went on to add that out of the total Shramik Special trains being run by the Indian Railways, nearly 75 per cent had its destination points either in UP or in Bihar.

Out of the 974 trains which have been operated so far, 169 are in transit while 805 have terminated at various stations. Ninety more are in the pipeline, an official said.

These 974 trains were terminated in various states like Andhra Pradesh (3), Bihar (201), Chhattisgarh (7), Himachal Pradesh (4), Jammu and Kashmir (5), Jharkhand (41), Karnataka (2), Madhya Pradesh (70), Maharashtra (5), Manipur (1),Odisha (45), Rajasthan (18), Tamil Nadu (1), Telangana (2), Tripura (1), Uttar Pradesh (387), Uttarakhand (4) and West Bengal (7).

The railways said on Friday that it has so far received 1,064 approvals from states to run migrants' trains. Uttar Pradesh has given the approval for 526 trains, followed by Bihar which has given the nod for 269 and Madhya Pradesh for 81 trains.

The number stands at 50 for Jharkhand, 23 for Rajasthan and nine for West Bengal.

'The Railways is ready to deliver workers to their homes by running 300 workers special trains daily, but I am sad that these trains are not being allowed by the governments of some states like West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, due to which Workers have to suffer away from home,'Goyal said in a tweet on Friday.

A Shramik Special train carries around 1,700 passengers, instead of the earlier 1,200, to ferry as many workers home as possible.

While initially these trains had no stoppages, the railways now allows up to three stoppages in the destination states.

While railways is yet to announce the cost incurred on these special services, officials indicated that the national transporter is spending around Rs 80 lakh per service.

Since the Shramik Special train service started, Gujarat has remained the top originating state, followed by Kerala.

Earlier, the railways drew flak from opposition parties for charging for these services.

In its guidelines, the national transporter has said the trains will ply only if they have 90 percent occupancy. PTI ASG AQS AQS