New Delhi: After dealing with a spell of criticism, the Indian Railways on Monday gave a clarification saying it is not charging migrants and students, but the state governments who are organising their for their ferry ride home. The plot hole here is that the Ministry of Railways had donated Rs 151 crore to the PM-CARES Fund. So, why not use that money to send the stranded home? Also Read - 'Will Defeat Coronavirus Under CM Thackeray's Leadership': Maharashtra Minister Raut Slams Centre, BJP | Watch
The Narendra Modi-led government had ensured safe return of people who were stuck abroad, in different parts of the world by arranging special Air India international flights that were sent in a few batches. The state carrier had raised a high price of Rs 5,98,90,352 from the Centre, none of which was charged from the travellers. The central government took care of it all. Also Read - Good News: After Jharkhand, Now Zomato And Swiggy Start Home Delivery of Alcohol in Odisha
However, when it came to migrant workers and labourers, who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the government arranged special ‘Shramik’ trains but started looking for ways to get back at least some amount of the total fare. Also Read - Only 7-day Hotel Quarantine For Foreign Returnees, They Can’t be Charged For 14 Days, MHA Writes to States
While it did reduce the cost by 85 per cent, charging only the standard fare that too from state governments, not migrants; a question that repeatedly comes to one’s mind is what happened to the remaining money in the PM-CARES Fund.
As it is, it took the stranded migrants more than a month of convincing, without food or shelter, to the central government to allow them to return to their home states.
The issue has been raging on social media platforms with political leaders to activists and celebrities questioning that same question – What happened to the PM-CARES Fund?
Earlier today, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi lambasted the Modi government for asking the migrants to pay for their train travel. Rahul Gandhi also criticised the Centre on Twitter asking it to ‘solve the puzzle’ of the central fund.
Meanwhile, several states including Bihar are arranging the Shramik trains for migrants and students at zero cost from the travellers. On the other hand, the Railways are ensuring basic social distancing norms, and providing free food and bottled water.