As the nationwide lockdown was extended by another two weeks, over 3,000 migrant labourers stranded in Karnataka were delighted as they boarded trains to their hometowns in other states.
On Sunday, the South Western Railway (SWR) facilitated three Shramik Special trains carrying a total of 3,590 people in three different trains – two from Malur and one from Chikkabanavara – both from the outskirts of Bengaluru city.
While the first Shramik special left Chikkabanavara at 9.26 am for Bhubaneswar in Odisha, the second train departed for Danapur (Bihar) from Malur at 2.35 pm.
The third train to Hatia (Jharkhand) began its journey at 5.25 pm from Malur.
In a statement, SWR said that special care was taken to ensure social distancing during the migrants’ commute to the railway stations and inside the trains. “All passengers were medically examined by the state government and were issued a medical certificate. Thermal screening was again done by Railway Medical Team at respective railway stations. No one was detected with high temperature,” the statement read.
SWR Chief Public Relations Officer E Vijaya told Indianexpress.com that RPF teams are escorting the trains collecting coach-wise details and contact numbers of all passengers. “We are digitising coach-wise and train-wise data for future need of contact tracing, if the need arises,” she said.
The travellers were provided transport from their places of residence to railway stations in Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses.
SWR officials added that lunch packets, biscuits, water bottles, and fruits were provided to the passengers, as donated by several NGOs including Azim Premji Foundation. “En route, meals are provided by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), the official added.
A day after drawing widespread criticism for demanding inflated fares from migrant workers for their travel back home to rural areas in the state, the Karnataka government arranged hundreds of buses for the same free of cost on Sunday.
According to the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), as many as 440 such buses left Kempegowda (Majestic) Bus Stand in Bengaluru till 7 pm on Sunday.
While most buses were run to Yadgir (54), Kalaburagi (52) and Bidar (31), labourers were provided transport to 46 towns across districts in the state from capital city Bengaluru.
These services will be available till Tuesday, CM B S Yediyurappa clarified.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) donated Rs 1 crore to KSRTC to facilitate free transportation to the stranded labourers after reports surfaced on them being charged heavily for the same on Saturday.
ಪ್ರಯಾಣಿಕರಿಗೆ ಉಚಿತ ಸಾರಿಗೆ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆ ಕಲ್ಪಿಸಲು ಕೆಪಿಸಿಸಿಯು ಕೆಎಸ್ಆರ್ಟಿಸಿ ಎಂಡಿಗೆ 1 ಕೋಟಿ ರುಪಾಯಿ ಚೆಕ್ ನೀಡಿದೆ.
Bus facilities for those wanting to go home has been very inadequate. Thousands are suffering without food & water at bus stands.
Karnataka Govt must wake up to their sufferings pic.twitter.com/35xAqtKPSo
— DK Shivakumar (@DKShivakumar) May 3, 2020
“Bus facilities for those wanting to go home has been very inadequate. Thousands are suffering without food & water at bus stands. Karnataka Govt must wake up to their sufferings,” KPCC President D K Shivakumar tweeted, attaching a copy of the cheque addressed to the KSRTC Managing Director.
Several senior leaders including leader of opposition Siddaramaiah, MP Rajeev Gowda, former ministers Dinesh Gundu Rao, Krishna Byre Gowda and others paid visits to the bus station on Sunday interacting with passengers, and raising their concerns to the concerned authorities.
Inter-district travel to be allowed once for individuals: DGP
In a bid to help employees stranded at locations away from their workplaces, the Karnataka State Police has decided to allow one-time permission to travel within districts in Karnataka.
Confirming this, Karnataka Director General of Police Praveen Sood tweeted, “Stranded due to lockdown? Want to join work? Interdistrict ONE DAY ONE WAY ONE TIME self-certified e-pass will be launched tonight for the entire state. Wait for the link tonight.”
Karnataka: Discharges outnumber new positive cases for second consecutive day
With 22 people recovering from COVID-19 infection in Karnataka and 13 new cases confirmed positive, the discharges outnumbered new cases for the second consecutive day in Karnataka on Sunday.
Discharges (22) outnumber new #COVID19 cases (13) for the second consecutive day (May 3) in #Karnataka. Total cases: 614 Deaths: 25. Discharges: 293 Active cases: 295 (include 3 patients in ICU) @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/C4roAIlCCg
— Ralph Alex Arakal (@ralpharakal) May 3, 2020
The new cases include six from Kalaburagi, four from Bengaluru Urban and three from Bagalkote, according to the Department of Health and Family Welfare Services.
With a fatality rate of 4.07 per cent (as on May 3, 5 pm), the state has recorded 25 deaths due to the pandemic so far. While 293 people have recovered from the infection, 295 active cases are undergoing treatment in designated hospitals located across the state.
Meanwhile, the state government released an updated list of Red, Orange and Green Zones in the state on Sunday. The district-wise list is as follows:
Red zone: Bengaluru Urban, Mysuru, Bengaluru Rural
Orange zone: Belagavi, Kalaburgi, Vijayapura, Bagalkote, Mandya, Bellary, Dharwad, Dakshina Kannada, Bidar, Chikkaballapur, Gadag, Uttara Kannada, Tumkur
Green zone: Davanagere, Udupi, Chamrajanagar, Chikkamagaluru, Chitradurga, Hassan, Haveri, Kodagu, Koppal, Raichur, Shivamogga, Ramanagara, Yadgir
BBMP bats for ward-wise COVID-19 zoning
Even as Bengaluru Urban district falls under red zones in the district-wise categorisation by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as relaxations were announced in lockdown restrictions from May 4, local civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has written to the MHA demanding that zoning needs to be done at the ward-level in the Karnataka capital.
BBMP Commissioner B H Anil Kumar confirmed that the decision was taken as the spread of the novel coronavirus in Bengaluru is contained in a small geographic area as compared to other cities in India.
“Out of 198 wards, 177 wards do not have any positive cases at the moment. Containment zones have been identified only 21 wards within BBMP limits. Since Bengaluru (Urban) is classified as a ‘Red Zone’ we have written a letter to MHA seeking permission to get relaxations in all other wards which are free of the pandemic,” Anil Kumar said.