After a gap of two days, special train services to take migrant workers in Karnataka to their hometowns resumed on Friday. Four trains with 4,800 passengers left two stations on the outskirts of Bengaluru for Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
The services were halted since May 6 after the Karnataka government wrote to south-western railways, citing lack of preparedness to receive migrants in the states they were headed to.
Divisional railway manager for south-western railway, Ashok Verma, said two trains are headed to Lucknow, and one each to Danapur in Bihar and Hatia in Jharkhand.
The trains were operated from Chikabannavara and Malur stations outside Bengaluru to prevent crowding and chaos.
Since May 2, about 14,000 migrants in 12 trains have left Karnataka for their hometowns in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Rajasthan.
Schedules for the trains were not publicised to prevent crowds from gathering outside stations, said a railway police official. “Even we are alerted only a few hours before departure.’”
“The workers are selected from construction sites based on data we have collected… and the readiness of the receiving stations,” state Minister for Education S Suresh Kumar said.
“We want them to stay if they want to work but if they want to go back, there is no point in stopping them. Train services were halted for a while as we did not get a green signal from the other state governments,” the minister added.
Cancellation of the train services had triggered a political storm with the BJP government in Karnataka drawing criticism from several quarters.
The decision to stop the services was taken soon after Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa met representatives of a real estate industry body who expressed apprehensions over the large-scale exodus of migrant workers and the impact it can have on the industry.
According to officials, a total of 30 trains are expected to be operated from the state to take migrant workers to their hometowns, officials said.