NEW DELHI: The railways took important decisions on Tuesday to increase the flow of migrants to states, though the measures might increase friction between the Centre and some opposition governments, as the consent of receiving states was done away with and the commencement of 200 scheduled ticketed trains daily from June 1 announced.
The new trains will be apart from the
and will be non-AC with regular booking. As far as the Shramik Specials are concerned, there was a significant change in procedure soon after the
issued a revised standard operating procedure (SOP) that did away with the consent of the receiving state. While this might be resented by some states like West Bengal that have clashed with the Centre on the special trains, it could be politically awkward to display a reluctance to receive residents who will also need to be quarantined on arrival.
A few hours after the change in Shramik Special rules, the railway ministry announced that while there is a plan to double the number of these trains, it will also start running 200 new special non-AC trains from June 1. These will run as per a time table to be issued by the railways and online booking of tickets will start soon.
The ministry said anyone can book tickets online to travel in these trains, though sources said it would largely cater to the need of migrant workers. “No tickets will be sold at any railway station,” the ministry said while appealing to migrants not to panic. It said efforts will be made such that they will be able to board trains from railway station on main line which is close to their current location.
The 200 daily non-AC trains will be over and above the Shramik Special trains. In a late night tweet, railway minister
said, “Within the next two days,
will double the number of Shramik Special trains to 400 per day. All migrants are requested to stay where they are; Indian Railways will get them back home over the next few days.”
Sources said effectively from June 1, nearly 600 non-AC trains may run daily transporting about six lakh passengers.
Till Tuesday afternoon over 21.5 lakh migrants had been transported to their home states by nearly 1,600 Shramik Special trains. The crowds seeking a place on the trains are not diminishing and the trains are expected to run for some more time. Earlier in the afternoon, soon after the home ministry came out with a revised SOP for Shramik Specials, the railway ministry had said the implication is that consent of the receiving state is no more mandatory.
The MHA had issued the SOP invoking provisions of the Disaster Management Act, which said the railway ministry will permit these trains in consultation with the home ministry and the railway ministry will finalise schedules and stoppages on requirements of states and UTs and these “shall be communicated by
Ministry of Railways
to states” for making arrangements for sending and receiving such stranded workers.
Before this, such trains could be run based on mutual consent between the sending and receiving state, which needed to be communicated to ministry of railways, and railways had maintained it had no role in this regard. A railway ministry circular of May 2 said, “The consent of receiving state shall be obtained by originating state, and a copy provided to railways before departure of train”.
The revised norms came in the wake of some states such as West Bengal allegedly having dragged their feet on giving nod to receive Shramik Special trains carrying their natives stranded in other states.