MUMBAI: The stand-off between Ministry of Railways and the Maharashtra government over the operation of Shramik trains has taken a political turn with the latter accusing the former of not giving enough trains and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal accusing the Uddhav Thackeray-led government of not providing passenger details.
According to Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, the state — despite having more migrant workers than neighbouring Gujarat — is getting fewer trains.According to estimates, there are 20 lakh migrant workers in Maharashtra while the number is 15 lakh in Gujarat. Government data as on May 27 show 9.73 lakh migrant workers left Maharashtra in 682 trains, while 10.15 lakh migrants took off from Gujarat in 699 trains.
Over 5 lakh migrants are believed to have left by road from Maharashtra while another five lakh are awaiting their turn to return.Goyal says his ministry is unable to operate the full quota of planned trains from Maharashtra as the state has not been providing the necessary information on time. Agreeing with the minister, railway officials say delay in obtaining details of trains and passengers derails all the planning.“It is important that all states give information on time. It helps us plan better. We are already battling congestion and poor planning in operation of trains causes more delays and more diversions,” a railway official said.
On Sunday, Goyal had tweeted, “Where is the list of 125 trains from Maharashtra? As of 2 am, received a list of only 46 trains of which five are to West Bengal and Odisha which cannot operate due to cyclone Amphan. We are notifying only 41 trains for today despite being prepared for 125.”
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik accused Goyal of playing politics over the migrant issue and Shramik trains. “From Lokmanya Tilak Terminal, the railway ministry had promised to provide 49 trains but the local railway officer is providing only 16. The migrants are desperately waiting to back to their native states. They are standing in scorching heat and spilling over road adjoining to railway stations,” Malik said.
Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat accused the Gujarat government of non-cooperation. “More than 10,000 migrants want to go back, but the government is refusing to take their own residents.”