KOCHI: Lack of proper communication from the Railway authorities in arranging special trains for migrant workers to reach their native places has left the Kerala Police in the lurch. According to the department, which is entrusted with the task of bringing the migrant workers to the railway station after completing the formalities, the lack of communication might trigger law and order issues.
The police officers came down heavily on the railway officials after the latter announced the cancellation of trains to West Bengal and Jharkhand. "As per the earlier communication from the railway, the train to West Bengal was scheduled to depart at 10 am on Monday. But just an hour before the scheduled time, they announced the cancellation of the train.
"However, the department confirmed the departure of the train by Monday night. The situation was the same in the case of the Kerala - Jharkhand train. We are bringing migrant workers from the camps only after getting confirmation from the authorities concerned. If we announce the cancellation at the last minute, it will create law and order issues. We are really worried about the communication from the railway authorities," said a police officer on condition of anonymity.
Police said most of the migrant workers are stranded and are in a distressing situation. "We arranged a special community kitchen, TVs and carrom boards to bring the migrant workers under control. Most of the workers were worried about their family members who are staying in their native places. It was after a long wait that they got permission to go back. If the Railways fail to provide proper communication, it will trigger a tense situation. They should communicate to the district administration and the police through proper channel," said another police officer.
The issue is being blown out of proportion and the Railways is being vilified unnecessarily, said a railway official. According to the official, the entire process is carried out by the state governments involved.
"The entire travel schedule hinges on the no-objection certificates issued by both the state governments. The host government has to issue a NOC citing the migrants have been tested and are cleared for travel, while the receiving state has to issue a NOC citing it has the facilities to receive and quarantine the arriving passengers," said the official.
"However, on Monday, the trains weren't ready as planned earlier after the Bengal and Bihar governments failed to issue necessary NOCs citing their quarantine facilities were full," said the official. This had been notified to the Ernakulam district administration through proper channel, the official added.
"These procedures are not associated with the Railways. Our work starts when we get NOCs from both the host and home state governments. Once the NOCs are obtained, the zero hour of the Railways begins and the machinery chugs into scheduling the train," said the official.
On the issue of alerting the migrants is concerned, the official said, "The labourers have to be alerted earlier. Otherwise, when the time comes they might not arrive at the stipulated point of boarding and the police, revenue and labour department authorities will have to run around collecting them."
"There were no faults on the part of the railway authorities in Ernakulam when it comes to scheduling the trains. We were in constant contact with the district collector and had been prompt in taking action," added the official.