- 20 May 2021
The government has arranged the “Shramik Special” trains to execute the plan. Passengers will be brought in batches in sanitized buses to the railway stations. All passengers will have to use face mask or face covers and maintain social distancing norms throughout the process.
On the International Labour Day, May 1st, the Indian government took a decision for pilgrims, students, immigrant workers, tourists and other people all over the country to be sent home, who remained stranded because of the lockdown (due to corona virus outbreak). The government has arranged the “Shramik Special” trains to execute the plan.
The Union Home Ministry, who first said that the stranded people will be sent to their homes by buses, later on shifted the idea by saying that trains (run by Indian railways) will now be used instead of buses because the population of such people are high. The Union Home Ministry has also said that Nodal officers will be designated by the Railway ministry for coordinating with the States and Union territories. Later, guidelines on maintaining social distancing norms, which are to be maintained in the stations and trains, were released by the railway ministry. Very soon, one can expect the issuance of guidelines on the sale of tickets for the special trains.
The union ministry also added, “These special trains will run from point to point on the request of both the concerned state governments (those sending and receiving the passengers) as per the standard protocols. The railways and State governments shall appoint senior officials as Nodal officers for coordination”.
The states sending the passengers will be responsible for screening them and only those passengers who are free of Covid-19 symptoms will be allowed to travel. Passengers will be brought in batches in sanitized buses to the railway stations. All passengers will have to use face mask or face covers and maintain social distancing norms throughout the process.
The Railway ministry informed, “Meals and drinking water would be provided to the passengers by the sending states at the originating station. Meals will be provided on trains in case of long journeys”. The guidelines said, “On arrival at the destination, passengers will be received by the State Government, who would make all arrangements for their screening, quarantine if necessary and further travel from the railway station”.
Six trains have been also listed on Friday by the ministry: Lingampally to Hatia; Aluva to Bhubaneshwar; Nasik to Lucknow; Nasik to Bhopal; Jaipur to Patna; and Kota to Hatia. States like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Kerala were pressurizing the Centre for arranging special trains for the stranded people. The Home Ministry, first permitted the movement by buses but later on decided to allow the movement by trains.
It was estimated that about 10 million migrant labourers are stranded throughout the country and around 500,000 buses would be required to send them home if the social distancing norms has to be maintained and if they are to be travelling at around the same time.
All passenger trains were suspended from 22nd of March with the allowance of the freight and special parcel trains for supply of essentials. Military trains have also been allowed from 17th of April, considering the national security of the nation. The move by Indian Railways, States and the Centre to join hands at the time of crisis displays the willful dedication of India as a whole to diminish the curse of COVID-19.