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Operated 1,595 'Shramik Special' trains, ferried over 21 lakh migrants: Railways

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Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Indian Railways has operated 1,595 'Shramik Special' trains since May 1 and ferried over 21 lakh migrants back home, the national transporter said on Tuesday.

While Uttar Pradesh has allowed 837 trains, Bihar has permitted 428 and Madhya Pradesh more than 100, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said in a tweet.

Among other originating states, more than 188 trains have started from Punjab, 89 from Karnataka, 61 from Tamil Nadu, 58 from Telangana, 54 from Rajasthan, 41 from Haryana and 38 from Uttar Pradesh.

Out of the trains that have terminated so far, the maximum has been in Uttar Pradesh with more than 641, while 73 more are in transit, followed by Bihar with 310 and 53 more on the way.

The operation of these trains has, however, led to a political mudslinging, with the opposition accusing the Centre of charging fares from migrants and then the Centre accusing some states having non-BJP governments of not providing permission for migrant trains to run.

On Tuesday, the railways also said it no longer needed the consent of the destination states to operate such trains after the central government issued a standard operating procedure (SOP), which said that for running 'Shramik Special' trains, permission will be given by the Ministry of Railways in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Railway spokesperson Rajesh Dutt Bajpai said, "Consent of terminating state not necessary to run 'Shramik Special' trains."

He further said, "After the new SoP, the implication is that no consent of the receiving state is mandatory".

Over the last few weeks, the Centre has alleged that some states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, which have a significant migrant population in other states were not giving permission for migrant trains resulting in lakhs of them walking towards their homes hundreds of kilometers away.

While the states have denied the allegations, data has shown otherwise.

The new rule of bypassing the destination state will significantly ease the movement of migrants, officials said, with railways needing approval only from the originating states.

The national transporter hopes to run up to 300 such trains and carry the remaining migrants home over the next week, the officials said.

While Uttar Pradesh has allowed 837 trains into the state, Bihar has received 428 and Madhya Pradesh more than 100 trains, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said in a tweet on Tuesday.

However, till Monday evening, some other migrant heavy states had agreed to receive very few trains -- Chhattisgarh approved only 19 trains, Rajasthan only 33 trains and Jharkhand only 72 trains, according to official data.

According to the officials, while the railways has the capacity to run around 300 trains per day, it is operating half of that number because destination states are not sending an adequate number of approvals.

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

Initially, these trains had no scheduled stoppages during the journey, but the railways now allows up to three stoppages in the destination states.

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

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 19 2020. 21:47 IST