Five Shramik Express trains carrying 6,000 migrant labourers left for Odisha, Jharkhand, and Bihar from Surat Railway Station on Monday. All the passengers underwent medical check-ups through thermal guns as they maintained strict social distancing at the railway station under strict police security. An NGO provided food snacks, bananas and water bottles to the passengers.
A total of 3,600 migrant workers from Odisha left in three trains, at 10.00 am, 1.00 pm and 4.00 pm, for Jagannathpur Raliway Station in that state. The passengers had assembled at Pandesara area in Surat, from where they were picked up and dropped to the railway station in municipal corporation-run city bus services.
The buses were later sanitised to be reused in the evening for two more trains that left for Dhanbad in Jharkhand at 9 pm, and Begusarai in Bihar at 10.40 pm. Passengers of the two states had assembled at Parvat Patia, from where they were taken in buses to the railway station.
“Till Monday evening, a total of 18 trains carrying 21,500 migrants would have left Gujarat for Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand,” said Secretary to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani,
Earlier, on Saturday, three trains in Gujarat — one from Surat to Odisha, and two from Ahmedabad to Uttar Pradesh — had left with 3,600 workers from Gujarat. On Sunday, seven trains left Gujarat carrying 8,400 passengers, which included three trains from Surat to Odisha, one train each from Ahmedabad to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and one train from Vadodara to Uttar Pradesh.
One of the trains scheduled for Sunday left early Monday morning, from Palanpur to Uttar Pradesh, and another from Nadiad.
Notably, train tickets for migrant workers from Jharkhand and Bihar were managed by Samast Bihar Jharkhand Samaj Trust of Surat. Trust president Ajay Chaudhary said, “We spoke to the district collector about providing the trains and he agreed after consultation with the Surat Railway Authorities. We have some 10,000 people from Bihar and 7,000 people from Jharkhand living in Surat. We provided 2,400 names of those who wished to go to their home states. The per head ticket fare for Dhanbad is Rs 715 while that for Begusarai is Rs 710. We paid the entire amount for the tickets to the Railway authorities. After collecting the tickets on Sunday night, we called all the people and handed them tickets this morning.”
Kalpesh Yadav (28), a native of Gaya district in Bihar who was working in a dyeing and printing mill at Pandesara, Surat, said he came to know about the availability of tickets from the Facebook page of Ajay Chaudhary. “I contacted him and gave him my details. I paid the ticket fare at his office. I know I will be quarantined at the college campus near my village. After 14 days, I will be allowed to go home. I will first of all hug my wife.”
Yadav added: “I have not been to my native place for two years now. My family, which includes my wife Koyalben and two children Shivash (3) and Kashish (4), and my parents had been pressuring me to return. On Sunday morning, I got to know that my ticket has been confirmed. Every time I used to go home, I used to buy sarees for my mother and wife, and carry nan khatai and farsan that are not available in Bihar. This time, I I am going empty handed. I could only buy some medicines that my diabetic father wanted me to get. time.
Another traveler, Nandkishor Singh (39), a native of Begusarai, said: “I have been working at a textile factory in the Pandesara area for the past five years. I also got my ticket through Ajay Chaudhary. My son told my wife that I stay in a red zone at Pandesara in Surat, so she told me not to come home as she is worried about my health. But it is difficult for us to survive here, as my firm owner gave me the ration only for the month of April and no salary. Looking at the market condition, I feel it will take a few more months till Diwali for the market to gain some momentum. Once the industry starts, I will come back to Surat.”
(With inputs from Avinash Nair in Ahmedabad)
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