The Ministry of Railways on Monday said it had ferried 60 lakh migrants through “Shramik Special” trains since they were launched last month and that the average fare per passenger was Rs 600.
At a press conference, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said that the government has run 4,450 trains so far. He added that the railways generated a revenue of around Rs 360 crore by running the special trains. “We managed to recover only 15% of cost of operations, 85% of the cost is being borne by the Centre,” Yadav said.
Yadav’s statement is in line with what the Centre and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have claimed so far. They have claimed that the Ministry of Railways has subsidised the fare of train tickets for migrant workers by 85% and state governments have been asked to pay the remaining 15% on their behalf. This came after Congress President Sonia Gandhi tore into the Centre for its decision to charge migrant workers for providing special trains home amid the nationwide lockdown and said the party’s state units will pay for their train travel.
Yadav added that he had written to the state governments again to ask them if they needed more special trains, after the Supreme Court on June 9 directed the Centre to send all migrant workers back to their native places within 15 days. The court had also ordered the Centre to provide additional trains within 24 hours of requests by states, so that migrant labourers could be sent back home soon
“We will keep running the trains till there is demand for them,” Yadav said at the press conference.
So far, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir have asked the Centre for additional special trains, PTI reported.
Hundreds of thousands of migrant labourers began journeys home on foot in March, after the Centre imposed a countrywide lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The migrants were left without jobs and means of transportation to reach home. Some died on the way due to illness and exhaustion. Faced with fierce criticism over the migrant workers crisis, the Centre had launched over 300 Shramik special trains on May 1.