CHENNAI: Migrant labourers who had pinned all their hopes on the train services to return to their home States are a dejected lot, as no trains are being introduced from Chennai owing to the State government’s resistance. On Thursday, the Railways enabled the option to book tickets for 200 non-AC trains running across India. But, what curse fell on Tamil Nadu was, not even a single train was operated from the State.
The Railways’ decision attributed the decision to the State government’s resistance for operating trains to Chennai. Recently, in his letter to the Railways, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has asked the Centre not to operate trains to Chennai, citing increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the city.
Daily trains are introduced to many other States including Maharashtra, which tops in the case rate in the country. But, what could have prompted the government here to oppose the train services to Chennai are the infrastructural constraints for institutional quarantine and lack of PCR kits for tests, said official sources.
It’s learnt that the Railways had initially proposed to run four trains to Chennai - two trains from Delhi and Howrah each. However, the plans got dropped in the eleventh hour, as the CM himself publicly asked the Railways not to operate trains. “As of now, there are no trains from Chennai. If the Railway Board approves, the trains may be operated in future,” said railway officials.
The State’s health protocol mandates that upon arrival, inter-state travellers will be sent to institutional quarantine until PCR tests are carried out. While those who tested negative are sent for home quarantine, those tested positive are admitted to hospitals. Satish Sonu, a migrant labourer, who works in Manali said, “We are ready to bear the train fare. If the trains are operated, why will be try to travel by foot? Our travel agent has asked us to wait for few more days.”Officials of Chennai Corporation and health department could not be reached for comments.