A special train carrying 1,200 migrants stranded during the nationwide lockdown left from Lingampally in Telangana to Hatia in Jharkhand on Friday morning, PTI reported.
This is the first such train arranged since the lockdown was imposed in March to break the chain of transmission of the novel coronavirus and after the Union Home Ministry allowed inter-state travel of stranded labourers, tourists, students and pilgrims.
“The 24 coach train started at 4.50 am today,” Railway Protection Force Director General Arun Kumar said. “It’s the only train to be deployed so far.”
Kumar said the train will reach Jharkhand around 11 pm on Friday. Meanwhile, officials in Jharkhand said the state has made adequate arrangements to test and quarantine the migrants who are returning.
In a statement, the railways ministry said a “one-off special train” was run on the request of the Telangana government, according to Hindustan Times. “All necessary precautions such as prior screening of passengers, maintaining social distancing at station and in the train were followed,” it added.
An official said said more such trains will be planned only as per the directions of the railways ministry and on request from both the originating and destination state governments.
Opposition-ruled states such as Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Kerala have also urged the Centre to deploy special trains to transport stranded migrants home. In its order on Wednesday, the government had said those stranded can be allowed to move only after states consult with each other and agree on the movement by road.
Struggling to make ends meet amid the lockdown, lakhs of migrant workers have demanded permission to go back to their hometowns.
On Wednesday, hundreds of migrant workers employed at a construction site on the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad campus attacked officials of the construction companies, demanding wages and permission to go home amid the nationwide lockdown. A day earlier, workers in Gujarat’s Surat city vandalised the office of a construction site after the contractors allegedly brought in more labourers from other parts of the state to speed up the work. Last month, thousands of migrant workers had gathered in Mumbai’s Bandra suburb to protest, demanding transportation arrangements to go back to their hometowns.