The Indian Railways on Tuesday decided to run three special trains from Odisha, a day after Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan wrote to Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal, seeking his intervention to relaunch “Shramik Special” trains from Odisha to other states, PTI reported. Pradhan had said this would facilitate the return of migrant workers to their places of work, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The three trains announced on Tuesday are from Puri to Ahmedabad, Puri to Gandhidham and Puri to Okha – all destinations in Gujarat. All of them will begin operations from September 12. As many as 80 other trains will also begin operations from September 12, the Railways had said earlier this month.

“Shramik Special” trains, which had been started on May 1 to facilitate the return of migrant workers to their hometowns, now stand suspended. The last Shramik Special train operated on July 9.

Pradhan said in his letter on Monday that he has received representations from many migrant workers seeking resumption of such train services. He said the labourers told him they were in dire straits due to unavailability of jobs in their home states.

“As you would be aware, there was a mass exodus of migrant workers from states like Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra to Odisha in the wake of nationwide Covid-19 lockdown,” he told Goyal. “With the efforts of the Railway Ministry, thousands of workers across the country could reach their home towns by Shramik Special trains and the same was appreciated widely.”

Pradhan said that while some employers were willing to offer bus services from Odisha, the monsoon season makes long journeys difficult. “I request your intervention for restarting of Shramik Express Trains from Odisha to states like Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra at the earliest,” he told Goyal.

Last week, eight migrant labourers died after the bus carrying them from Odisha’s Ganjam to Surat in Gujarat met with an accident in Chhattisgarh. Several labourers were injured.

On Tuesday, the Railways said the new trains will have only reserved category coaches. “These special trains will run to notified timings,” a statement said. “These trains will be fully reserved trains. These services shall be in addition to the Shramik specials and the special trains, which are already under operation. The composition of these trains would be same as of existing regular services.”

India on Tuesday reported a daily jump of 75,808 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally to 42,80,422. The toll rose by 1,133 to 72,775, while the country’s recovery rate is 77.31%.

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