Published On: Thu, May 14th, 2020

WB needs 105 ‘Shramik’ trains a day, but is accepting 105 over 30 days: Piyush Goyal

New Delhi: There is a need for 105 ‘Shramik Special’ trains a day to take stranded migrants hailing from West Bengal back home but it is “sad” that the state is accepting 105 trains over 30 days, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal

His remarks were in response to a tweet by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that she has arranged for 105 additional special trains to bring back migrants stranded across the country due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

“I feel sad that while there is a need for 105 trains/day to bring back migrants to West Bengal, the state is accepting only 105 trains over 30 days. I once again hope for the sake of Bengali brothers and sisters in different parts of the country, that West Bengal will accept them back with open arms,” Goyal tweeted.

Many migrants want to return to West Bengal and if the state “does not accept them, then we may find more cases of migrants and even children walking for hundreds of kilometres and resorting to other dangerous means”, he said.

West Bengal should speed up setting up of adequate arrangements to receive their migrants, Goyal tweeted.

In an series of tweets earlier in the day, he had said the state had allowed only seven ‘Shramik Special’ trains and cited that Uttar Pradesh has “cleared” 400 such trains.

The railways had started the migrant special service on May 1 after the central government gave its approval for transportation of stranded workers on trains during the novel coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Banerjee, who is also the Trinamool Congress chief, in her tweet has said that “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 West Bengal, bringing people back home, she said.

Railway Minister Goyal said despite his appeal to the West Bengal government to give permission to allow more ‘Shramik Special’ trains, there has been no response from it.

“After my statement yesterday, the West Bengal government has woken up from its deep sleep. The government has yet allowed only seven trains for migrant workers… The workers of Bengal are far from their homes, so I had appealed to allow them to run more trains,” Goyal said.

“It is a cruel joke with the migrant workers of West Bengal that the government there is not giving them the facility to go to their houses,” he said.

Among the migrant heavy source states, West Bengal has approved the least number of ‘Shramik Special’ trains so far at seven, out of which one is still on its way.

Uttar Pradesh has accepted 386 trains, while Bihar and Madhya Pradesh have accepted 204 and 67 trains, respectively. The number stands at 44 for Jharkhand, 18 for Rajasthan and seven each for Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, the central government said on Thursday.

More such requests are being sent from states and the central government is working on them, it said.

The railway minister said, “So far, the government of West Bengal has not allowed eight trains to run, as per its announcement last week”.

“This is a petty attempt to trick West Bengal’s migrant workers, and the government is running away from its responsibility to take the poor labourers home,” Goyal said.

“Uttar Pradesh cleared 400 trains in less than 15 days and brought its migrant workers home. Instead of showing this kind of alacrity, the West Bengal government is preventing the labourers from getting assistance,” he said.

Goyal urged the West Bengal government to think about the interests of workers who have to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state should to allow the railways to run more special trains as soon as possible to take stranded migrants home, he said.


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