Though migrant labour can be seen working in paddy fields and even industrialists are making efforts to bring them back, not more than around 10,000 have returned to Punjab, as per official records. Nearly 5.64 lakh have returned to their native states by train or road since May 3.
A total of 394 Shramik trains were sent by the Punjab government with 5.12 lakh passengers to their home states like UP, Bihar, while 851 buses were sent carrying 24,882 passengers and 6,402 private vehicles moved out carrying 27,043 passengers. According to government records, 118 had gone on foot in May.
Though regular Shramik trains continued till May 28, after that a total of 19 trains went on different days. From June 1,100 special trains have been started across the country, of which 8 trains (16 trips to and fro) have been started from Punjab which have paid tickets while fare of Shramik trains was sponsored by the Punjab government to the tune of Rs 29 crore.
However, despite the fact that special trains had been started from June 1 and even industries had started opening up apart from start of paddy transplantation season, 17,509 persons moved out of Punjab in the first fortnight of June via 9 Shramik trains, 12 buses and 779 private vehicles.
Apart from this, over 25,000 have moved out via special trains running from Punjab from Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana stations.
Punjab government records say that approximately 7,000 people have come to Punjab in the first fortnight of June via trains, buses and private vehicles, including paddy transplant and industry workers. Many coming in have not been recorded by the administration as buses are coming to many villages directly and administration is caught unawares.
Hence one can’t judge the actual number of persons who have entered Punjab from June 1 onwards. “But this number is in thousands only and not in lakhs as people have moved out,” a government official from the Ludhiana district administration told The Indian Express.
However, industrialists are expecting labour to come in large numbers in the second fortnight of June as many of them have got reservations of their workers done in advance. “There are no reservations available till mid July for the trains coming to Punjab, hence people are likely to come back Punjab from mid-June onwards, must be in thousands only, but still they will be back, we are hopeful,” said Rajneesh Ahuja, president of CII, Punjab region.
Meanwhile special trains from New Jalpaiguri, Haridwar, Mumbai etc and a few UP and Bihar have been bringing back workers to Punjab. “A number of workers reach Delhi and later come by road from Delhi as direct trains from many stations have not yet started,” said Badish Jindal, another Ludhiana industrialist.
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