Describing the evacuation of migrants affected by the lockdown as “biggest migration in independent India”, the Gujarat government has put out a video showcasing its efforts, and said it would complete the evacuation of 13 lakh migrant in the next seven days, through Shramik trains.
“Today, Gujarat accounts for the maximum number of Shramik trains. Perhaps, this is the biggest migration in independent India which Gujarat has done,” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, said in a video prepared by the labour and employment department regarding the migration of workers from the state.
According to the state government, Gujarat has so far run 562 Shramik trains. The video says, “Of the total trains run in the country, 41 per cent has been operated from Gujarat under the leadership of Vijay Rupani where a lot of people were sent back home respectfully, as guests and in sleeper coaches.”
Total 1,770 trains operated across the country till Tuesday. “Over 8.08 lakh migrants have already left the state in these trains,” says Ashwani Kumar, secretary to Chief Minister. According to him, Maharashtra has so far run 314 such trains, Punjab 226 and Karnataka 108. Gujarat began the evacuation through Shramik trains on May 2.
Gujarat has requisitioned for 350 more trains to transport an additional 4.5 lakh migrants in the next seven days. “We will complete evacuating about 13 lakh migrants in the next seven days. We have asked for 350 more trains to help transport 4.25 lakh of the remaining migrants in the state,” says Vipul Mittra, additional chief secretary, labour and employment department, who is also among the officials spearheading the migrant evacuation in the state through Shramik trains.
On Wednesday, the government said it will run 72 trains, which will include 46 trains to Uttar Pradesh, 23 trains to Bihar, two train for Jharkhand and one train to Tamil Nadu.
The longest Shramik train that originated from Gujarat has been the one to Manipur. “It covered a distance of 2,400 kilometres and carried people from three states, including Assam, Meghalaya and Manipur. It took about 50 hours to reach,” Mittra said. The government will run one more train to the northeast to ferry students or those employed in health clubs, hotels, resturants, gymnasiums, spas, beauty parlours and other places.
Mittra said a train to Kerala will be run soon. “After we complete the evacuation for Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh, we will focus on other states. On Tuesday, the train that left for Jammu and Kashmir carried 1,600 migrants from six districts,” the official added.
The video put out by the labour and employment department says every 20 minutes one Shramik train leaves from Gujarat. “Gujarat is not just the home of Gujaratis. This is also a second home for workers from other states. It is the ‘karmbhoomi’ for lakhs of people from other states. These workers are fuel for our trade and industry,” Rupani said adding that the migrants have been sent to their native states with “full respect”.
Though Rupani claims in the video that the entire “mission” was managed well and in peace, there have been violent incidents in Surat and Rajkot where migrants took to the streets demanding evacuation. “It is one of the most systematic and biggest migration,” Mittra added.
The government in the video also claimed it has sheltered and fed migrants in 235 “Shramik” camps. Medical screening was also conducted, it added.
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