An estimated 24 lakh inter-state migrants have left Maharashtra since the nation-wide lockdown began on March 25, with over 75 per cent from Mumbai and the extended Mumbai Metropolitan Region, according to official estimates.
While nearly 11.24 lakh left in 781-odd Shramik Special trains that have operated since May 1, another 5 lakh workers were dropped to various state borders in state transport buses and around 8.5 lakh left in private vehicles to destinations outside the state as well as within.
This number — calculated according to the number of permits issued for groups that travelled this way — does not include those who walked, drove in autos, taxis, or hitched rides in trucks, tempos and oil and freight containers. Officials say these unregistered departures could go up to 15 lakh or more.
However, since May 27, there has been a decline in the registration of fresh applications at police stations, as well as in the number of Shramik Specials leaving from major inter-city stations in Maharashtra, indicating that the reverse migration may have slowed down for now.
On Saturday, 20 trains left from Maharashtra, down from 30 on Friday. Only 12 trains are expected to leave on Sunday, with the number set to trickle down to one or two each day starting next week.
A senior official from Mantralaya pointed out that 30,000 workers remain on their registers and they would be sent in some 20 Shramik Specials over the next one week.
“The workers left behind are largely from West Bengal, who will require some 10 trains and a few others from Northeastern states where train operations were hit due to a landslide,” said the official.
Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) Nitin Kareer, who heads the nodal team for the movement of migrants from the state, said, “We have catered to over 11.24 lakh workers who have left in 780-odd Shramik Specials. There will be about 10-12 trains leaving on Sunday and a few more over the next one week. We’ll require another 30 or so trains and with that, we’ll clear the demand that was registered with us by next week. By then, we would have run about 810 Shramik Specials.” The government, he said, will take fresh applications if they come up.
A Railways official explained that the demand for Shramik Specials peaked in the second week of May, with more than 50 trains operating each day between May 20 and May 26, when 74 trains operated on a single day.
“After that, only 27 trains departed on May 27, followed by 30 trains on both May 28 and 29,” said a Central Railways official.
Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Pranaya Ashok said, “Between 7-8 lakh migrants have left from Mumbai, of whom 5 lakh left in trains and 1.5 lakh in buses. We believe there are nearly 2-3 lakh migrant workers remaining in the city currently.”
Police stations too have been reporting a drop in fresh applications from workers seeking tickets to go home. An official from the Agripada police station in Mumbai said, “In the last two days, we have not received any new application.”
With the drop in registrations, police are now clubbing new applications with those in adjoining zones. “Whatever applications we now receive, we will contact the zone from where the trains are leaving and will try to accommodate them in their trains,” said an official from Malabar police station.
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