The Government of India on Friday morning ran its first special train to transport 1,200 migrant labourers to Hatia in Jharkhand from Lingampally in Telangana.
The decision to run special trains was taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) after considering a request of the Telangana government. “As of now, only one train is running. The decision on more such trains will be taken after receiving directions from the MHA, and talks between source and destination states,” said a senior railway official.
A call on running more trains for stranded mighrant labourers will be taken after a final MHA notification comes, likely on Friday or Saturday. According to a Railways spokesperson, the train from Telangana, with 24 coaches, was a one-off special train and it started after taking all necessary precautions, such as prior screening of passengers, maintaining social distancing at the station as well as in the train. This special train started at 5 am from Lingampally.
“This was only a one-off special train. Any further plan will be based on directions from the Ministry of Railways upon request from the governments of both source and destination states,” said a spokesperson for South Central Railways (SCR).
According to media reports, meetings about running these special trains were held until late at the railway ministry on Thursday, after the MHA gave its final approval. Talks about multiple similar trains from West to East India and from South to East are taking place between state government and the MHA. These special trains — long-distance, single-stop ones — cover only two stations, and they are non-air conditioned too.
In a major relief to migrant workers, students and tourists stuck in various states, the central government had earlier this week allowed their inter-state movement by road, in accordance with protocols to be worked out by states receiving them and those from where they are leaving. According to the media reports, the Indian Railways has now proposed to facilitate the movement of stranded migrant labourers across the country by operating 400 daily trains initially, and then scaling the number up to 1,000. The decision to run trains for migrants was taken more than a month after passenger train operations across the country were stopped on March 25.