BHUBANESWAR: As more than one lakh migrant workers are waiting to be brought back to Odisha, the State Government is likely to take a decision on increasing the number of Shramik special trains soon to bring back stranded people at a faster rate.
The issue cropped up during a video conference meeting between officials of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Railways and State Government. The Centre requested the states to cooperate with the Railways in running more Shramik special trains. Now, four to five trains are coming to Odisha everyday with migrant workers from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
The Railway Ministry has decided that the special trains can now carry 1,700 passengers up from the present capacity of 1,200. The revised guidelines stated that the capacity of these trains should be equal to the number of seats in the sleeper berths. So far, the Railways has operated 24 special trains for Odisha, official sources said. The Centre on Monday directed the states to ensure that no migrant worker travel by foot on road and along railway tracks while returning to their home. In a letter to Chief Secretaries of all states, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said, “In case they are found in such condition, they should be counselled, taken to nearby shelters and provided with food, water etc. till such time they are facilitated to board the trains or buses to their native places.”
Five special trains carrying nearly 6000 migrant workers have left for different destinations in Odisha on Sunday. The trains include three from Surat to Jagannathpur, one from Chennai Central to Jagannathpur and other one from Rayanpadu near Vijayawada to Titlagarh. Besides, six special trains, two from Surat to Jagannathpur and one each from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, Thangarh in Gujarat, Thane in Maharashtra and Mumbai have already started on Monday for different destinations in the State.
Official sources said 67,535 migrant workers returned to Odisha by trains, buses and other vehicles. On Monday, 11,619 people have returned to Odisha.President of OPCC Niranjan Patnaik said the onerous task of dealing with the influx of migrant workers needs adequate arrangements by the Government along with the support of civil society.