The Union Home Ministry directed the state/UTs to ensure that the migrant workers do not resort to walking on roads, rail tracks and use available special trains.
Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said in a letter to the Chief Secretaries that the states should cooperate with railways in running more ‘Shramik’ special trains “so that travel of stranded migrant workers is facilitated at a faster rate”.
“I urge upon you all to allow receiving of all Shramik special trains without any hindrance and facilitate faster movement of stranded migrant workers to their native places,” Bhalla said in the letter to states.
He added, “All the State/UT governments should ensure that migrant workers do not resort to walking on the road and on railway tracks. In case they are found in such condition, they should appropriately be counselled, taken to nearby shelters and provided with food, water till they are facilitated to board the ‘Shramik’ special trains or buses to their native places.”
The Indian Railways has operated 428 ‘Shramik’ special trains since May 1st, 2020 and ferried home more than 4.5 lakh migrants stranded in various parts of the country.
Every ‘Shramik’ special train has 24 coaches, each with a capacity of 72 seats. However, only 54 people are allowed in a coach and the middle berth is not allotted to any passenger to maintain social distancing norms.
Gradual Resumption of Select Passenger Services
Indian Railways plans to gradually restart passenger train operations from May 12th, 2020, initially with 15 pairs of trains (30 return journeys).
These trains will be run as special trains from New Delhi Station connecting Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi.
Thereafter, Indian Railways shall start more special services on new routes, based on the available coaches after reserving 20,000 coaches for COVID-19 care centres and an adequate number of coaches being reserved to enable operation of up to 300 trains every day as ‘Shramik Special’ for stranded migrants.
Booking for reservation in these trains will start at 4 pm on 11th May and will be available only on the IRCTC website (https://www.irctc.co.in/).
Ticket booking counters at the railway stations shall remain closed and no counter tickets (including platform tickets) shall be issued. Only passengers with valid confirmed tickets will be allowed to enter the railway stations.
It will be mandatory for the passengers to wear face cover and undergo screening at departure and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the train. Further details including train schedule will be issued separately in due course, the Ministry said.