The fourth special train ferrying stranded patients from Vellore left for Howrah in West Bengal on Monday from Katpadi railway junction. So far, 4,360 people have been sent back to their home states.
“Today, we have dispatched the 4th special train (first to West Bengal) with 1,186 CMC patients, including 58 children,” said Vellore collector A Shanmuga Sundaram.
The passengers, stranded for more than two months, gratefully waved their hands as the train slowly chugged off the platform.
Top officials including collector Shanmuga Sundaram and SP Pravesh Kumar led a team of officials in seeing off the passengers, most of whom were patients visiting the CMC Hospital in Vellore for treatment.
The railway junction premises and its surrounding places were cordoned off by the police. All the passengers, who were issued with tokens, were subjected to checking before allowed to enter the platform.
About 11,000 persons, including patients and guest workers, were stuck in different parts of the district following the enforcement of the lockdown to contain COVID-19.
The district administration provided free food for all of them while ensuring the proprietors of lodges/mansions, where many of them stayed, collected only 50 per cent of the rentals.
So far, four special trains were operated from Katpadi junction to Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal ferrying a total of 4,360 persons including 250 from Chennai.
The first train was operated on 6 May to Jharkhand with 1140 persons, the second to the same state with 1142 persons, the third to Patna in Bihar with 1162 persons and the fourth to Howrah in West Bengal with 1186 persons.
The district administration provided food packets and a bottle of water to each of the passengers.
Out of eight Shramik special trains operated from Tamil Nadu, four are from Vellore, the collector noted.
Tamil Nadu has borne the travel costs of the stranded people sent back to their home states on the special trains.