The Indian railways on Friday ran a special train between Telangana’s Lingampally and Hatia in Jharkhand to transport over one thousand stranded migrant workers. This was the first passenger train service since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown on 24 March.
RPF DG Arun Kumar told news agency PTI that ‘the 24 coach train started at 4.50 am today (Friday)’ carrying around 1,200 migrant workers. Kumar said that the railways did not have any more plans to run similar trains in the near future from Telangana.
“This was only a one-off special train. Any further plan will be based on directions from the Ministry of Railways upon request from the governments of both source and destination states,” Business Standard quoted a spokesperson for South Central Railways (SCR).
However, some reports said that a similar train was likely to run between Kerala’s Ernakulam for Bhubaneshwar in Odisha at 6 PM on Friday.
The nationwide lockdown announced at a short notice had forced hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to remain stranded across the country. Left with no option, many had resorted to walking thousands of kilometers to return to their native homes. There were reports of many workers dying while returning homes due to exhaustion, hunger and stress.
According to the Telangana government, nearly 15 lakh migrant workers are stranded in the state and it would not be safe to ferry them to their native places in buses.
The decision to start more similar trains will be taken after the Ministry of Home Affairs issues more clarity through its order, likely on Friday or Saturday. The MHA had earlier this week issued a notification allowing the movement of migrant workers, students and tourists stuck in different parts of India by road.
The government decision to transport some of the migrant workers from Telangana to Jharkhand took place on International Labour Day.