Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday engaged in a war of words over the running of Shramik special trains, with the Shiv Sena chief accusing the Railways of not providing enough trains to the state despite demand.
In a televised speech to the state, Uddhav claimed that while his government has been seeking 80 trains daily to send migrants back to their respective states, the Centre is sending only 30 to 40 trains daily.
He added that his government has so far sent back 7 lakh migrants to their respective states in 481 trains, with the the state bearing 100 per cent of the costs — spending Rs 85 crore.
Soon after, Goyal tweeted saying that the Railways would operate 125 Shramik special trains for Maharashtra on Monday and asked Uddhav to share a list of migrants who would board these trains, along with their details, medical certificates and their originating and destination stations, within an hour with the Central Railway (CR).
Later in the day, Goyal again tweeted: “More than 2.5 hours have passed but still passenger details for 125 planned trains in Maharashtra not received by GM Central Railway from Government of Maharashtra.”
He also said that the Railways was ready to send as many trains as required to states, provided they do not “return empty”. “I hope that these trains will not have to leave empty after arriving at the station like it has happened earlier. I would like to assure you that the trains you need will be available,” he tweeted, referring to earlier occasions when migrants did not board special trains.
The CR, meanwhile, also came out with a press release stating that it had to cancel 65 trains due to lack of preparations on part of the Mahahrashtra government. “For the last two hours, rail authroties have been waiting for the list of passengers with details of their destination to plan the trains. Planning special trains is an elaborate process, which requires time and unless lists are given in time, Maharashtra government will make it impossible for Railways to run the train,” it added
Former CM Devendra Fadnavis also waded into the controversy by thanking Goyal and taking a swipe at Uddhav. “What do you call this behaviour whereby you tend to blame the Centre for your own shortcomings? The Centre today is prompt in providing all the help required,” he tweeted.
Earlier in the day, Uddhav had taken a swipe at the Centre over its reluctance in operating trains for migrants before announcing the lockdown. “We had been asking for trains from the Centre before the lockdown was implemented. We had told them that we would bear the cost, as the migrants were keen on returning home. Unfortunately, for some reason, the permission was denied. Trains were started only after the dangers increased. The Centre says it will pay 85 per cent of the cost of these train. We are hopeful that we will get this money…. in a way similar to the money that we have received in the past,” he said. He added that the state has spent Rs 75 crore to send 3.8 lakh migrants to their states in buses.
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena said it had submitted the list sought by the Railway Ministry.
“The Maharashtra government has submitted a list of wanted trains to the Railway Ministry. Piyushji there is only one request please ensure that trains should reach stations which they are supposed to reach. A train heading for Gorakhpur should not reach Orissa,” Sena MP Sanjay Raut tweeted.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines