AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government does not keep any money collected from sale of train tickets to migrant workers heading to their hometowns and merely acts at a facilitator and transfers fares to Railways, officials said on Tuesday, rejecting allegation of charging such travellers.
The assertion came in the wake of the Congress claim that the state government is not providing free of cost travel to the poor and unemployed migrant workers heading to their native places amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
Over two dozens trains carrying migrant workers have left from various railway stations of Gujarat to different states in the last few days.
According to Secretary in the Chief Minister's Office (CMO), Ashwani Kumar, though migrants pay for tickets, the state government does not keep that money.
"The Gujarat government doesn't keep any money collected from sale of train tickets. On the other hand, we are facilitating the travellers in registration, providing transportation till train station and assisting in smooth boarding of passengers," Kumar told PTI.
On Monday, Kumar had clarified that people wanting to go back to their native places need to buy tickets for train journey.
Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani of the Congress on Tuesday challenged Chief Minister Vijay Rupani over the issue and alleged his government was not speaking the truth.
"I challenge the CM to prove that the state government has provided free of cost travel to the poor and unemployed migrant workers. If you prove me wrong, I will resign. Or else, the CM must resign," said Dhanani in a statement.
Additional Chief Secretary (Labour and Employment department), Vipul Mitra, explained that the state government is just a facilitator who deposits the collected fares to the Railway authorities.
"The Gujarat government doesn't keep any money. We are given around 1,200 tickets per train. We take the payment from migrants and deposit the entire amount to the Railways.
"If a migrant is unable to pay, we take help of NGOs who pays for that migrant. No one is left behind for the want of money," said Mitra.
Till Tuesday morning, as many as 23 trains carrying around 27,000 migrant workers of different states have left from various railway stations of Gujarat since May 2, said a government release.