CHENNAI: At least 2.9 lakh migrant workers stranded in Tamil Nadu have been sent home by trains, a senior State official informed The New Indian Express.
The officer, who is involved in regulating the movement of stranded people, said that 7 lakh migrant workers had registered for e-pass. “After removing duplicates, the number became 5 lakh, of which only 4 lakh wanted to go,” he said. He was of the view that the remaining migrants could be sent home by trains -- or buses if needed -- over the coming week.
Meanwhile, at least 90,000 migrants have been sent home from by nearly 70 trains till Sunday from Chennai city, senior Chennai police and Corporation officials told New Indian Express.
Corporation deputy commissioner Meghanath Reddy explained that the civic body had developed an SOP to deal with the migrant crisis. “This has been unfolding in two waves,” he explained. The first wave, he said, was when the lockdown was first imposed. At that time, the civic body was responsible for providing shelter and food to about 2,500 stranded migrants. “Once the trains started running, we were able to send them off. This wave was organised,” he noted.
The second ongoing wave involved migrants from across the state arriving in Chennai by foot or other means unannounced. “This is not an organised movement so it is a bit more challenging,” he noted. Nonetheless, he said that the civic body organises buses to move them to community centres where they are sheltered till they can be sent home by train. “We have fast-track teams to deal with this and three nodal officers handling it,” he said.
On Saturday and Sunday, the Corporation’s shelter at Kannappar Thidal was at full capacity with around 120 people sleeping inside the shelter and another 100 sleeping outside on the concrete floor. When asked about this reporter’s experience at the shelter, Reddy said the feedback would be taken into account.
When asked why people from Puducherry were not stopped at the checkpost at Chennai, a senior Chennai Police official said he would look into the matter.