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Row over payment for migrant trains, Bihar says Delhi violated Railway Ministry norms

Delhi government had made an advance payment to the Indian Railways and had written to the Bihar government on Thursday requesting a reimbursement. On Friday, the Delhi government said it was footing the bill for migrant workers headed to states that do not want to pay.

Written by Santosh Singh , Mallica Joshi | New Delhi, Patna | Published: May 10, 2020 5:29:23 am
Migrant workers, Special train, Bihar government, Delhi news, indian express news Workers with their cycles on the way to New Delhi Railway Station on Friday. (Photo: Amit Mehra)

The Delhi government, which paid the train fare of close to 1,200 migrant workers headed back to Bihar, will not be reimbursed approximately Rs 6.5 lakh it had sought from the Bihar government.

While it had made an advance payment to the Indian Railways, Delhi had written to the Bihar government on Thursday requesting a reimbursement. On Friday, though, the Delhi government said it was footing the bill for migrant workers headed to states that do not want to pay.

In a letter to the Bihar disaster management department principal secretary Pratyaya Amrit on Thursday, Delhi’s state nodal officer PK Gupta, who is managing the return of migrant workers to Bihar, said Delhi had made a bulk payment of tickets for all workers and requested the Bihar government to reimburse an amount of around Rs 6.5 lakh to the Delhi government.

The train left for Muzaffarpur on Friday.

On Saturday, Amrit said Bihar would not pay as the Delhi government had violated norms set by the Railway Ministry. Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Railways on May 2 state: “The local state government authority shall hand over the tickets to the passengers cleared by them and collect the ticket fare and hand over the total amount to Railways.”

On Saturday, Amrit wrote to Gupta, referring to the guidelines set by Railways regarding sale of tickets. “… Thus, the decision of the Government of NCT of Delhi for making payments for buying bulk tickets for all the passengers and then to seek reimbursement from the Government of Bihar is violation of the aforesaid guidelines issued by Ministry of Railways,” he wrote.

Amrit told The Indian Express: “Our letter clearly means that we are not going to reimburse the Delhi government but would adhere to the Ministry of Railways guidelines regarding stranded passengers being carried by Shramik specials. In case of Bihar being the originating state, we would pay fares to Railways.”

The decision to allow workers to go back to their home states was taken by the Centre. State governments then set up nodal teams to facilitate the movement and draw up lists of workers who want to travel.

Delhi has prepared a list of about 1,200 workers who wanted to return to different parts of Bihar.

Bihar then wrote to Delhi, mentioning that the policy of its government was to reimburse the fare paid by migrant labourers on arrival.

However, the Delhi government did not sell tickets to migrants but asked Bihar to reimburse the amount it had paid to the Northern Railways.

After the letter sent by the Delhi government seeking reimbursement from Bihar came to light, Delhi labour minister Gopal Rai tweeted: “It is true that Delhi government had written to Bihar government. It is also true that the Delhi government paid for the tickets of 1,200 workers yesterday for their journey to Muzaffarpur. But it is also true that we did not get a reply from the Bihar government.”

Earlier, AAP Rajya Sabha MP, Sanjay Singh alleged that Railways had said that trains would run once the money is paid. “Railways are saying trains will run after the money is paid, Bihar government is saying take the money from the workers and they will repay them. The Delhi government has said it will not let workers pay and that is why we have paid the railways in advance. Who are you trying to fool Nitish ji and BJP,” he tweeted.

Delhi government had paid Rs 6.42 lakh to the Northern Railways, officials said.

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