Enthused by the huge response to its dedicated service, the South Western Railway (SWR) operated three more special trains to ferry stranded migrant workers to Jaipur and two to Danapur (Bihar) from Bengaluru, an official said on Monday. Also Read - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Counting on Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford to Boost Manchester United's Season Run on Premier League Return
“One Shramik special left Chikbanavar station in Bengaluru at 3.20 p.m. for Jaipur with 1,198 migrant workers, while another left Malur station at 7:05 p.m. to Dhanapur near Patna with 1,199 migrants,” divisional railway manager A.K. Verma told IANS here. Also Read - China's Missing 'Bat Woman' Appears on State TV; Says COVID-19 is Just 'Tip of The Iceberg'
The third train, also to Danapur, left Malur with 1,200 passengers on Sunday night with 1,200 passengers, taking the total number of special trains with migrants to 6, including 4 on Sunday and total number of passengers to 7,184 during the last 36 hours. Also Read - Post COVID-19, Travel Will Resemble Scene From Sci-fi Movie And we Agree With Anand Mahindra
Three trains left on Sunday for Bhubaneswar in Odisha, Danapur, and Hatia near Ranchi in Jharkhand, carrying 3,590 migrants.
“Like Sunday, steps were taken to escort workers to stations under the Railway Police Force (RPF) supervision in state-run buses from their relief camps across the city,” said Verma.
Security was tight and movement of people to both the stations were regulated to prevent non-registered migrants and others crowding the platform, as social distancing was mandatory. Only those cleared by the Karnataka government were allowed to board the trains.
“In all, 7,184 migrants were sent to different states in the past 36 hours. A similar train to Howrah could not be run as the state government is waiting for a response from its West Bengal counterpart for receiving migrants and screening them on arrival,” another official said.
As thousands of migrants from western, northern and eastern regions are stranded in the southern state, with two-thirds of them in this tech city, since the lockdown was enforced on March 25 and extended twice to May 4 from April 15 and then May 17, the state government is pulling out all stops in sending as many of them after response from their respective governments.
“Transporting the migrants as per the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines is daunting as it needs coordination among the central and state governments and multiple agencies, including healthcare warriors and the police, to ensure that passengers are free from the virus and healthy to travel long hours in the summer,” the official told IANS.
Hundreds of migrants, including security guards, skilled workers, cooks, waiters and construction labourers from states like Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, MP, Rajasthan, UP and West Bengal are longing to return to their native places in the absence of work, wages and money to sustain during the lockdown ordeal.
“We are ready to operate as many special trains to other cities/states from Bengaluru or other stations in our zone as per the advice of the state government, which is responsible for the welfare of migrants and their safe journey to their native places,” Verma said.
In compliance with the guidelines, each train comprises 24 coaches — 18 sleeper class, 4 general and 2 SLR (seating-cum-luggage). Only 54 passengers are allowed to travel in each coach to maintain physical distancing and hygiene.
One team of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) is escorting each train to their destinations. Names, cell numbers and other details of passengers are collected coach-wise. “We are digitising coach-wise and train-wise data for future need of contact tracing, if any,” said Verma.
The Azim Premji Foundation, a non-government organisation of the software major Wipro, provided lunch, biscuits, water bottles and fruits to the migrants, while the railways will serve them food en route through the state-run IRCTC.