Railway Minister asks Bengal to allow “105 special trains every day to send all migrants home”

Published : May 15, 2020 21:21 IST

Migrant labours and their families on a special train that arrived from Rajasthan at the Dankuni railway station, some 25 km from Kolkata, on May 5. Photo: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP

Soon after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that her government had arranged for 105 special trains to bring back over 1.3 lakh migrant workers stranded in 12 States, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal stated that the State government was not giving permission for “enough” Shramik Special trains (run by the Centre to take migrants workers home) to the State.

On May 14, Mamata posted on social media: “Towards our commitment to helping all our people stuck in different parts of the country and who want to return back to Bengal, I am pleased to announce that we have arranged 105 additional special trains.

“Over the coming days, these special trains will embark from different states for various destinations across Bengal bringing our people back home.” The State government even gave details of where the trains would be coming from.

However, soon after, Piyush Goyal said, “Today I was informed in the evening that we received an informal communication that about 105 trains will be accepted by West Bengal in the next 30 days. Which means hardly 1.5-2 lakh migrant labourers can go back home to West Bengal, from now until 15th June….”

According to him, there are over 30 lakh people from Bengal in different parts of the country waiting to go home. “What will happen to the rest of them? They will have to either walk all the way to West Bengal, or take a cycle or a bus or hitch on to a truck. Look at the colossal risk that lakhs and lakhs of labourers from West Bengal will have to suffer because the West Bengal government is not giving permission to the trains to enter West Bengal.”

He appealed to the State government to “please give permission for 105 trains every day” instead of asking for 105 trains over 30 days, “and we will send all the migrant labourers from West Bengal who want to go back home. We are not forcing anybody.”

A few days earlier, when Union Home Minister Amit Shah accused the Mamata government of not allowing migrants from Bengal to return home, the Trinamool leadership announced that it had requisitioned eight trains to bring back stranded migrants from different parts of the country. Countering the Trinamool’s claim, Piyush Goyal said, “West Bengal first gave permission to only two trains, then when the honourable Home Minister wrote to the State Chief Minister to allow trains to enter West Bengal, an announcement was made that eight more trains will be allowed, but until today afternoon only five out of those eight trains were allowed. Yesterday also I made an appeal to the West Bengal government to expeditiously give permission to send the migrant workers back home.”

The Railway Minister said that it “pained” him that despite the fact that the Indian Railways has 1,200 Shramik Special trains for migrant labourers, “States like West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand are not giving enough permission so that we can run Shramik Special to their States.”

 

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