Updated: May 17, 2020 6:59:46 am
For every migrant worker who died in the Auraiya road accident, a lakh more are waiting to return to their native homes in states. On May 2, Jharkhand started an online portal asking its stranded people to register if they want to travel back home. Between May 2 and May 14, 6.92 lakh people registered, according to an official in the state’s labour department. “More than 10 lakh people are stranded in various states. The number of registrations are only expected to increase,” the official said.
Read | 119 killed, countless stuck
Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Odisha are some of the other states besides Jharkhand which primarily feed the labour markets in Maharashtra, Gujarat and the southern states including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Kerala.
Many migrant workers do not want to wait to return home, especially since they the Shramik Special trains have not been able to meet the huge demand. While Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal blamed the states for not giving permission to receive the trains, chief ministers of West Bengal, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh hit back, giving details of the number of trains for which they have already given their consent.
Caught in this fight between the Centre and states, and finding no means to return to the safety of their homes, migrant workers have started to walk. Some 2.5 lakh migrant workers from West Bengal, 2.69 lakh from Chhattisgarh, 10 lakh from Uttar Pradesh, 5.5 lakh from Rajasthan, and 2.7 lakh from Bihar are believed to be stuck either in rented spaces, or shelter homes, or to be just on the roads walking through the night.
Jharkhand Transport Secretary K Ravi Kumar told The Sunday Express there was no pendency at the state’s end. “We have shared with other states a list of stranded people who registered in our travel portal. As per the SOP, it is up to the sender state to share a list of passengers along with the trains, for which we give a No Objection Certificate. Till Thursday, we gave a go-ahead to 104 trains, and the remaining six were cleared on Friday,” he said.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren had Friday tweeted, “We have given NOC to 110 trains of which 50 have arrived, bringing around 60,000 migrants.”
West Bengal said it sought 105 trains, with only eight reaching the state till Friday. State government sources said 2.5 lakh migrant workers have applied to return home. Trade unions estimated the number of stranded workers from the state at about 25 lakh.
In Chhattisgarh, 2.69 lakh people had registered to return to the state through social media and phone calls. “We had registered only 1.7 lakh people in lockdown part 2. Now the numbers have grown by a lakh,” state Labour Secretary Sonmani Borah said.
Of these 56,140 people have managed to reach their homes. The state had demanded 30 trains from the Railways. “They have approved only 15 trains because we have been able to pay for only those as of now,” Borah said. Of these 15 trains, eight have already brought in more than 11,000 migrant workers. “We are trying to get approval for more trains from Railways,” he said Friday.
According to sources in Uttar Pradesh government, about 10 lakh additional migrant workers are expected to return in the coming weeks. They said Maharashtra had 5.6 lakh workers from UP, Delhi had 5.1 lakh, Gujarat 3 lakh, Haryana 1.3 lakhs, and Punjab about 77,000.
As many as 3.39 lakh migrant workers have already returned to Madhya Pradesh, including about 2.43 lakh by buses, according to Additional Chief Secretary and in-charge of state control room, ICP Keshari. Of these, 1.72 lakh are from Gujarat, 78,000 from Maharashtra and 52,000 from Rajasthan. Others have returned from Delhi, Kerala, Haryana, Punjab, Goa, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. “About one lakh more are expected to return,” said Keshari.
In Rajasthan, as on Friday morning, 21,26,479 migrants or people had registered online with the state government to travel – from Rajasthan to other states or from other states back home to Rajasthan. Of these, 9,55,575 people have registered to travel out of the state and 11,70,904, currently living outside Rajasthan have registered to return back.
Data obtained from the government shows that 1,24,633 migrants/ labourers have been sent to other states by Rajasthan and 4,75,236 migrants/ labourers have been brought to the state so far. “A total of 13 trains have so far transported 16,167 migrant labourers to states including Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh,” the data revealed.
As far as the national capital is concerned, a total of 30,000 migrants from different states have left Delhi through 22 Shramik Specials as on Friday. In addition to these, several buses have been arranged by the home states of the migrants to bring them back from Delhi, including 13 buses to Punjab, five to Ladakh, and three each to Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, the spokesperson said.
“The government has also received close to 28,500 applications on its web portal by migrants who are living in rented accommodations in the city and wish to go back to their home States. The applications would concern an estimated 82,000 individual migrants as many are combined applications having two to three names each, made by families,” a Delhi government spokesperson said.
Nitin Kareer, Additional Chief Secretary, Maharashtra, said while he couldn’t share the total number of migrants who want to go back, as he was yet to get figures from Mumbai Police, “As of now we have planned another 200 trains. So you can roughly say more 2.5 lakh migrants to be sent back.” Till date, 2.45 lakh migrants have been sent back on 191 trains across Maharashtra.
In addition, 1.41 lakh migrants have been sent on 11,379 buses to Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat and Chhattigarh.
with inputs from Deep Mukherjee in Jaipur, Gargi Verma in Raipur, Atri Mitra in Kolkata, Santosh Singh in Patna, Maulshree Seth in Lucknow, Zeeshan Shaikh in Mumbai
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