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Bihar urges Centre to run special trains for facilitating return of migrants

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Press Trust of India Patna
The Bihar government on Thursday urged the Centre to allow running of special trains to facilitate the return of people stranded in different parts of the country in wake of the revised lockdown guidelines released by the Union Home Ministry.
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi made an appeal to the effect in a video message claiming that depending on the road route could take months because of the limited availability and capacity of buses.
"We will welcome all our people, willing to come back, from any part of the country. Arrangements like screening, home quarantine and institutional quarantine are in place. We have also appointed Pratyay Amrit (senior IAS officer of Principal Secretary rank) as the nodal officer," he said.
Modi said the number of those wanting to return is likely to be huge. "If we depend on buses, the process could take months to complete," he said.
"I would therefore urge the Centre to run special trains. These could be non-stop ones, with no halts between the points of departure and the destinations. Seating arrangements could be made for passengers in a way that social distancing is ensured. Food, water etc. could be made available on board," he added.
Modi pointed out that the number of people from Bihar stranded because of the lockdown is very large, with more than 17 lakhs having received financial assistance of Rs 1000 each from the state government and nearly a million more applications being processed.
"These people are spread across the country. Their number is noticeably large in places like Delhi. We can opt for buses to bring people from places which are close to Bihar. But for far-off ones, the Centre should consider our request for special trains," said the senior BJP leader.
Riotous scenes were witnessed outside Bandra Railway station in Mumbai mid-April where migrants labourers, many of whom hailed from Bihar, had gathered with the hope of returning home.
Notably, movement of passenger trains across the country was completely suspended before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown in March to prevent the spread of COVID 19 pandemic.
The movement of only freight trains has been taking place in the meantime.
The deputy CM came out with his appeal shortly after having told reporters that Bihar did not have adequate number of buses and therefore the government will request states, where students, migrant workers etc. may be stranded, to help with the resources at their disposal.
The opposition had fumed, accusing the Nitish Kumar government of coming up with excuses after showing insensitivity to the plight of students in places like Kota and migrant workers across the country in the name of strict adherence to the lockdown.
Jailed RJD supremo took to Twitter and quoted a verse from poet Kabir to assert that the aggrieved people would make the government pay for its alleged abdication of responsibility.
On Wednesday, senior BJP leader and former Union minister Sanjay Paswan had warned that the state governments dithering over the issue of Kota students could cost the NDA dearly in the assembly polls due later this year.
Meanwhile, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party national general secretary Madhaw Anand said it was high time that the Bihar government demanded its rightful due and took advantage of the BJP which rules the Centre, sharing power in the state.
"Now is the time for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to demand a package of Rs 1.50 lakh crore which the state needs badly because of the strain on resources resulting from the pandemic and the economic devastation caused by the lockdown.
"It is a foregone conclusion that the long-standing demand for special status to Bihar will not be met before the state goes to polls in about six months. But the government can demand a package," Anand told PTI.
The RLSP leader urged Sushil Modi to stop whining about inadequate number of buses.
"Granted, the state has only 600 buses run by the government besides 10,000 private ones. But why can SUVs run by private tour operators, hanging dust since the lockdown, and buses from states which may have huge fleets, cannot be hired by the Bihar government? It should not shy away from footing bills in such a delicate situation," he said.

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First Published: Apr 30 2020 | 6:36 PM IST

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