Over 30,000 migrants left Surat on Saturday to their home states and districts in special trains and GSRTC buses.
As many as 14 trains left Surat to Bihar, Odisa and Uttar Pradesh carrying 16,800 workers stranded in the city due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
A total of 15,120 migrants left to Saurashtra and other districts in north Gujarat in buses. Some of them also left to their home states in private luxury buses.
Among the 14 trains, 12 trains left to different districts in Uttar Pradesh including Prayagraj, Varanasi, Pratapgarh, Jaunpur, Lucknow and Gorakhpur. One train each carrying the migrants left for Bihar and Odisha.
The train tickets are booked by the community leaders who had collected the travel fare from the passengers. They were brought to the railway station in buses. The migrants were thermally screened at the railway station before boarding the train. They were also given water bottles and food packets by various NGOs. Strict police arrangements were made at the Surat railway station to ensure that social distancing is maintained.
On Friday, no trains left to Odisha from Surat, after the Odisha High Court order which directed the state government to “ensure that all the migrants who are in queue to come to Odisha should be tested negative for Covid-19 before boarding the conveyance.”
But later in the evening, the Supreme Court had stayed the interim order. On Saturday, a train carrying 1,200 people left for Jagannathpur in Odisha from Suarat.
Surat Railway station director C M Garuda said, “We have got large number of bookings to UP. Today, we have resumed the train services from Surat to Odisha. We are hoping to get permission to run train from Surat to Madhya Pradesh.”
From May 6, around 1,000 state transport buses carrying around 30,000 diamond and embroidery industry workers from Surat had left to Saurashtra and north Gujarat, officials said.
At present, the GSRTC authorities are giving bus connectivity to 13 different destinations from Surat like Amreli, Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Botad, Mahisagar, Patan, Dwarka, Mehsana, Jamnagar. Rajkot, Gir Somnath, Bhuj and Godhra.
The highest number of bookings are to Amreli followed by Bhavnagar, Botad and Junagadh.
GSRTC Surat district controller Sanjay Joshi said, “In the last four days 1,000 buses had left from Surat to different destinations in Saurashtra and north Gujarat. We are allowing only 30 passengers to travel in a single bus so that social distancing can be maintained. Once the bus returns to Surat after the journey, it is entirely disinfected at our workshop.”
“The fares are much cheaper than what private luxury buses charges. The passengers have to pay the fare for one-way trip,” Joshi added.
As per the procedures, a group leaders of a residential society can book for 30 passengers. After getting permit from the district collector, the group leader has to pay the ticket fare to the GSRTC. Once the ticket is booked, the group leader can call the bus at any prescribed place where all 30 passengers can assemble.
Surat Diamond Association president Babubhai Katheriya said, “We are expecting that over one lakh people may leave for Saurashtra and north Gujarat from Surat in the coming days. Once the situation turns normal, and as the diamond industries resume operations, these workers will return to Surat.”