COVID-19 in Mumbai: Rumour forces migrants on footpaths in Kurla for 2 nights

Updated: May 27, 2020, 20:12 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar, Sayyed Sameer Abedi | Mumbai

Hundreds of labourers and their family members form long queue outside Kurla bus depot after hearing that today the last set of Shramik Special trains will leave for their hometowns

Sultan Shaikh and his family wait outside Kurla bus depot for a bus to a railway station, so that they can take a train to their hometown in Uttar Pradesh, on Tuesday
Sultan Shaikh and his family wait outside Kurla bus depot for a bus to a railway station, so that they can take a train to their hometown in Uttar Pradesh, on Tuesday

Lakhs of migrant workers took the Shramik Special trains to their hometowns over the past few days, as lakhs more waited for their turn. Hundreds spent two nights on the footpaths outside Kurla bus depot for transport to the railway stations from where several trains were to depart on Tuesday."

Desraj Chakravarty, from Uttar Pradesh, said they have been waiting near the Kurla bus depot for two nights to get a bus to the station. "The queue has run into kilometres. There was a rumour that today was the last day for Shramik Special trains, hence, the crowd was more," he said.

Many of them were seen carrying containers full of ration as they had learnt about the lack of availability of food on the journey home, and in their villages as well.

126 trains were to leave MMR
Tuesday saw massive crowds and chaos across the city because the state government had decided to run 145 trains on the day, including 126 from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. However, by 6 pm, only 27 trains had left the state.

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said that as per the Maharashtra government's demand on Monday, they arranged 145 trains for the state. But, the state was not able to get the required number of migrants to fill up all the trains.

Another labourer, Mohammed Raees, said they decided to wait on the footpath fearing if they did not stay in the queue, they might lose their chance to board a train. "It was chaotic to live on the streets with family, but it is better to leave Mumbai," he added.

They were all waiting for buses to Kurla LTT, Mumbai CSMT, Thane and Borivli stations from where trains were scheduled to leave for their hometowns. Jitendra Prajapati, a medical assistant who has been organising transport for the migrants, told mid-day on Tuesday afternoon that they have also procured private buses to ease the load on BEST. "We will ensure that maximum buses are be arranged so all the migrants reach the stations," he added.

Police under pressure too
The police teams on duty to ensure the daily-wage labourers are transported to railway stations complained about little help from the state government. "I have made over 800 calls since morning to answer migrants' queries. Everything is getting worse by the day, with not much help from the state government and the entire responsibility being put on the police," said an officer.

Another migrant, Hafiz Ali, who wants to go to Gonda in Uttar Pradesh, hopes to be back home soon. "We will have to stand in the queue till the buses come, but once we are on the train, we know we will reach home," he added.

Railways gave 145 trains to the state after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray complained that the IR was not organising enough trains for Maharashtra. Central Railway officials said they mobilised all the resources available despite the short notice.

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