KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked the Railway Ministry not to send Shramik Special trains to the state till May 26 in view of Cyclone Amphan.
The letter from West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha to Chairman of Railway Board VK Yadav dated May 22, stated that the state has been severely impacted by Super Cyclone Amphan on May 20-21 which caused extensive damage to the infrastructure.
"As the district administrations are involved in relief and rehabilitation works, it will not be possible to receive special trains for the next few days. It is therefore requested that no train should be sent to West Bengal till May 26," the letter from the Bengal government has said.
At least 86 people in West Bengal have died due to Cyclone Amphan. With normal life thrown out of gear by the region's worst weather disaster, the authorities have been scrambling to restore normalcy. West Bengal has received the least number of Shramik Special trains since such service began to ferry migrant labourers back home amid the coronavirus-forced lockdown.
In fact, Home Minister Amit Shah in a letter had alleged that Bengal was not allowing its migrants to return. Later, it was decided that the consent of the destination state was not required to operate these trains.
Subsequently, railway minister Piyush Goyal too appealed to the West Bengal government to allow the migrant special trains to come into the state. So far, over 2,000 Shramik Special trains have been operated since May 1 ferrying over 31 lakh migrant workers. Around 35 trains have terminated in Bengal so far.
Lakhs of people were rendered homeless as Cyclone Amphan cut a path of destruction through half-a-dozen districts of the state on Wednesday, flattening houses, uprooting thousands of trees and swamping low-lying areas.
According to official sources, around 1.5 crore people of the state have been directly affected and more than 10 lakh houses destroyed due to the cyclone.