Indian railways have transported more than 44 Lakh migrant workers on 3,276 “Shramik Special” trains since May 1, according to official data.
Of the total number of trains, 2,875 have ended, while 401 are in transit. On May 25, 223 “Shramik Specials” carried 2.8 lakh passengers, the railways said.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has so far distributed more than 74 lakh of free meals and more than 1 crore of bottled water to migrants on the move.
“Beyond interstate movements, the railways have assisted state governments with intra-state passenger movements by providing MEMU / DEMU services and other trains. More than 11 lakh of passengers have been displaced within States so far, “said the railways.
The five main Union states and territories from which the maximum number of trains originate are Gujarat (897), Maharashtra (590), Punjab (358), Uttar Pradesh (232) and Delhi (200).
The top five states where the maximum number of trains stopped are Uttar Pradesh (1,428), Bihar (1,178), Jharkhand (164), Odisha (128) and Madhya Pradesh (120) , said the railways.
The “Shramik Special” trains are operated mainly at the request of States, which wish to send migrant workers stranded due to the lockout induced by COVID-19 in their places of origin.
While the Indian railways bear 85% of the total operating cost of each train, the rest is borne by the states in the form of tariffs.
The coronavirus lockout has had a devastating impact on the economy and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers.
The plight of migrant workers traveling from several urban centers to their villages hundreds of kilometers away made headlines for almost two months.
Several of them were killed in road accidents. A number of migrant workers have even been killed by a high-speed train after falling asleep on the rails.
The Indian Railways also said that the congestion on the railways, observed on May 23 and 24, is now over.
“Congestion has occurred due to the convergence of more than two-thirds of rail traffic on the routes to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and the late customs clearance of terminals due to health protocols, etc.
“The problem has been resolved through active consultation with state governments and finding alternative workable routes for the trip,” he added.
On May 1, Indian railways launched special migrant trains to facilitate the return of these workers to their countries of origin.
While four of these trains were in operation on the first day, the number was increased to 279 on May 20.
In the past four days, the railways have operated 260 trains on average daily, carrying around three lakh of passengers.
(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)