To use trains or not: MHA to decide soon on how stranded people can be taken back
New Delhi, May 01: The clamour by the states to run special trains to ferry stranded persons due to the lockdown is increasing.
The Union Home Secretary, Ajay Bhalla in his order earlier this week permitted states to take back stranded migrant labourers, students, tourists and pilgrims. However, the order made it clear that the states shall only use buses as a mode of transport. The order also says that the stranded persons shall be brought back only by road.
The states have been complaining that it would be a humongous task to bring back stranded persons by using only buses. The states are now urging the Ministry of Home Affairs to tweak its order so as to allow trains to ferry back stranded persons.
A meeting of the top Railway Ministry officials was held to discuss the issue. While there is no official word about the meeting, sources have indicated that special trains may be allowed to operate. The Railways can press services within hours, but the final call is with the MHA, officials say.
Further, ferrying those stranded by road is an expensive option and would require a lot of work for the state administration, which is already stressed due to the COVID-19 situation. Take for instance the case of Karnataka. The state will arrange transport for all the migrant labourers who want to return. The cost is estimated at Rs 10,000 per day for 25 people per bus. The requirement for every one lakh people is 4,000 buses and this would mean it would cost around Rs 4 crore for one lakh. If all workers wish to return, then the cost would be around Rs 8 crore. Karnataka has around 2 lakh migrant workers.