Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has requested him to advise Railway Ministry to arrange special trains to move stranded migrants to their respective destinations.
"Estimates indicate that nearly one million workers will need transport to go back to their states. The only feasible option in the circumstances was to arrange special trains, which the Railways may run from point to point, keeping in view the number of persons to be transported to a given destination," Punjab CM wrote in the letter.
Noting that since many other states might also be facing a similar situation, the Captain Amarinder sought the PM Modi's intervention in the matter, urging him to advise the Ministry of Railways to make special arrangements to ensure that these migrant workers reach their destination safely.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had, on Wednesday, allowed inter-state movement of migrant workers, while directing that "buses shall be used for transport of a group of persons, of course after proper sanitization and maintaining social distancing norms in seating."
Captain Amarinder pointed out that a large number of migrant workers who had come to Punjab for jobs/employment from Bihar, UP, and Jharkhand intended to return to their respective states due to the outbreak of COVID-19. "These workers are engaged both in agriculture and industries. However most of them either lost their jobs or could not find employment/work due to curfew imposed in the state to contain coronavirus," he wrote.
During a video conference with the state's DCs and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSPs), the Chief Minister said he has written to the Prime Minister with regard to the transportation of the migrants. He pointed out that Ludhiana alone had over seven lakh migrant labourers, with the whole of Punjab having over a million of them.
Though data was still being collated, approximately 70% of the labourers in Punjab hailed from Bihar, the Chief Minister said, adding that the movement of such large numbers was possible only through trains, with proper screening to be done at the time of departure.
Punjab saw the steepest rise in the number of novel coronavirus cases on Thursday with 105 persons, mostly pilgrims who returned from Nanded, testing positive for the disease, officials said. It is for the first time that the state has reported more than 100 coronavirus cases in a single day. With the fresh detections, the number of COVID-19 cases in Punjab now stands at 480, they said.
(With agency inputs)