The Railways has planned 2,600 Shramik Specials for the next 10 days after running a similar number over 23 days. Railway Board Chairman V K Yadav said the services will continue as long as migrants need them. “We will continue to run the Shramik Specials as long as migrants need them,” Yadav said on Saturday at the government’s official media briefing on the issue of migrants.
These trains have transported around 36 lakh migrants to their home states so far. A similar number is expected to be moved over the next 10 days on board trains bound for 16 destination states, including Assam, UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Odisha, Rajasthan and others.
Railways has kept rakes ready at its divisions for intra-state movement of the stranded. “We have issued instructions to run trains for movement within the states as well, upon requests from states,” Yadav said.
Another 200 mail or express trains will be introduced on June 1 and sources indicated that services may resume next month, adding to the congestion on routes.
Of the 2,600 trains so far, nearly 80 per cent have gone to UP (1,246) and Bihar (804), and most of the trains began their journey from Gujarat, Railways said.
Railways has added a “dashboard” in its internal software to monitor the movement of Shramik trains and ordered officers to be present in train control offices round-the-clock to manage them.
There have been cases of irate passengers onboard delayed trains resorting to vandalism at stations, allegedly looting food stalls and the like. There have been internal complaints of passengers forcefully taking snacks and water bottles, leading to scuffles. Officials also reported inadequate power and running water in many of these trains.
An Indian Express analysis earlier found that around 50 per cent of Shramik trains took migrants from red zones to areas under green and orange categories.
Asked about returnees testing positive on their arrival in several states, Yadav said the trains are run as per the protocol issued by the Centre and in states as per “local conditions”.
“There is protocol by the Home Ministry and also by the Ministry of Health. Only asymptomatic passengers are allowed to travel. They have to wear masks, and upon arrival, every state is screening them, keeping them in quarantine as per local conditions. States have created their protocols… Wherever needed, they are being sent to quarantine facilities. There is not much difficulty faced because the journeys are taking place following these processes.”
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