Lockdown day 38: Government finally arranges trains for migrants
Maharashtra transport minister gives nine-point plan that willing travellers have to follow, no symptomatic people to be allowed
After locking down the nation with just four hours notice on March 24 and leaving lakhs of migrant workers high and dry, the Centre on Friday launched Shramik Special trains to transport these workers and other stranded people home.
Indian Railway appealed to people not to crowd stations as the trains are only for those screened and registered by state governments. “No one should come to the station looking for trains. We will not issue tickets or entertain request from any group or individual. We will allow only those passengers whom state officials bring. The State is the final authority on deciding who travels,” an Indian Railway spokesperson said. The first train from Maharashtra, Nashik-Bhopal Shramik Special departed from Nashik station at 9:30 pm on May 1 as scheduled.
These special, non-AC trains will run from point to point. There will be different fares for sleeper and general class. The Railways and states shall appoint senior staff as Nodal Officers for coordination.
Migrants onboard a train for Hatia, Jharkhand at Lingampally, Telangana. Pic/PTI
Passengers have to be screened by states sending them and only asymptomatic people would be allowed to travel. Sending states have to bring these people in batches to the designated station in sanitised buses following social distancing norms and other precautions. It will be mandatory for every passenger to wear face masks. Meals and drinking water have to be provided by the sending states at the originating station. Railways said they will ensure social distancing, hygiene and provide a meal on longer journeys. On arrival, the home state has to screen, quarantine passengers if necessary and arrange further travel from the station.
Maharashtra’s Minister of Transport Anil Parab gave the following guidelines travellers must follow:
- Those willing to leave Maharashtra should fill forms and submit them to local police stations through their group leaders.
- The form will require basic details like name, address in migrant and home state, Aadhar card, mobile number. Each train will carry 1,000 passengers.
- Each migrant must get a certificate from a doctor stating that the traveller does not have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Based on this information, state will decide on booking tickets and make a list based on the applications.
- After preparing list, state will seek permission from the home state. After receiving NoC, action will be taken by district collectors to help passengers reach home.
- A section of the form will ask the traveller to choose the mode of transport — rail or road.
- Those wishing to travel by bus can form groups of 25, arrange a bus and inform the local police. Each state and district will have nodal officers.
- There is no restriction of movement within the state. Those who have gone out of Mumbai and are stuck can return. No restriction on people returning from Green Zones.
- However, people residing in Red Zones, especially in containment zones, cannot move.
No respite for Red Zone migrants?
People stranded in Containment Zones and Red Zones are likely to be prevented from leaving. This means many migrants in MMR, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik, Nagpur, Yavatmal and other affected districts stand no chance of leaving. Nodal officers at the district and state headquarter levels have started getting requests from people.
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