As the migrant crisis looms large over India with millions of workers stranded across the country due to the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19, the states have now come forward and urged the centre to take measures for their transportation.
A day after MHA allowed inter-state movement by buses for the stranded students, labourers, tourists, and pilgrims; Bihar, Punjab, Rajasthan, Kerala and Telangana urged the Centre to run non-stop special trains 'keeping in view the large number of persons to be transported to a given destination'.
However, when asked about special trains, Punya Salila Srivastava, a joint secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA), said the orders issued at present were for "using buses and for a group of persons" all states and union territories (UTs) will have to "strictly follow" MHA's latest guidelines.
Meanwhile, the UP government has estimated to bring back nearly 1 million workers and deployed buses from states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Quarantine centres and shelter homes are also being readied for the returning migrants. The state govt has already brought back round 13,000 people from Haryana.
According to Punjab officials, there are nearly 1 million migrant labourers in the state, approximately 70 per cent of whom are from Bihar.
In a letter to PM Modi, Punjab CM Amrinder Singh wrote, "estimates indicate that nearly one million workers will need transport to go back to their states. The only feasible option in the circumstances was to arrange special trains, which the Railways may run from point to point, keeping in view the number of persons to be transported to a given destination."
In Kerala, there are 360,000 workers in 20,826 camps and 99 per cent of them, hailing from West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, want to return to their respective states, CM Vijayan noted. Telangana has nearly 1.5 million migrant workers from Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, a minister said.
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot said that migrants from Rajasthan are stuck in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam, and special trains were needed to ferry them back to the state. "The Centre should arrange for special trains for migrant labourers. The railways should release a schedule of the trains," he said.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government has sought details from states about numbers of their migrant workers stranded in the national capital and said that it will make arrangements for their screening before they leave for their states.
Karnataka government has already assigned State Nodal Officers to coordinate with 11 different states after the MHA order was issued.
West Bengal government is also planning to bring back migrant workers from various states and has arranged 300 buses to bring back nearly 5,000 students who are stuck in Kota, Rajasthan.
In a letter to West Bengal CM, Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury wrote that "migrants from West Bengal are concentrated in the southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, western states like Gujarat and Maharashtra. In Karnataka alone more than 80,000 people have been stranded as per a conservative estimate." He also requested CM Banerjee to talk to Union government so that the stranded persons could be brought back by trains.