BENGALURU: Buckling under the collective pressure from irate migrant workers, opposition leaders and citizen activists to roll back its decision to stop running the Shramik special trains from Wednesday, a stung Karnataka government on Thursday decided to run 100-plus trains to nine states from May 8 to May 15. It is still being decided whether to restart the operations on Friday or Saturday as two of the states have already given consent for the move.
A high-level meet took place on Thursday morning in this connection, with the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police and the Divisional Railway Manager taking part. It was decided to go ahead with running the special trains.
Manjunath Prasad, Nodal Officer for Migrants, Karnataka told The New Indian Express, “As per the directions of the government, I have written to different state governments today seeking their consent to operate the trains.” An official communication has been sent to the nine states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Manipur, Tripura, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in this regard. The trains will be used for transportation of stranded migrant labourers, tourists, students, pilgrims and others.
The letter proposes running of 16 trains each to Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during the eight-day period with two trains being run every day. One train would be run daily to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In the case of Manipur and Tripura, one train will be run each day from May 8 till all the stranded persons are transported, the letter states.
Madhya Pradesh has given its consent to run all the eight trains. Bihar had already given its consent to run 8 out of 16 special trains there. The permission had been obtained earlier when the government suddenly decided on Tuesday night to pull the plug on operating special trains. This followed a meeting Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa held with top representatives of the construction industry and trade bodies. The 'building mafia' in the state and its alleged hold over the government came in for much criticism.
In the three days from May 3 to May 5 when special trains were operated, a total of 8,586 passengers, mostly migrant workers, were transported to Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Odisha with almost 1,200 passengers in each train. The decision to stop running the trains was taken on the night of May 5 even as the Railways was gearing up to run 10 to 15 special trains to Bihar continuously from May 6 to 10. This caused massive outrage among migrants, particularly the vast number of workers from Bihar, employed in the city.