The Ministry of Railways on Monday has clarified with regards to ticket fare for special trains, with sources stating that migrants' travel would be free, contrary to the Congress' assertion.
According to Railway Ministry sources, the railways is charging 15 per cent fare from the state governments. The rest of the expenses will be borne by the railways itself. The ministry has also cleared the air around the queries and announced that food and water, in addition to travel, are being provided for free to migrants travelling in the special trains. This comes after the government received flak from several opposition parties for their decision to charge the migrants, with the Congress saying it would pay if the government does not.
The Railway Ministry remarked that it is charging standard rates from the state government. In addition, it has also asserted that some berths in trains are being kept to follow social distancing. Moreover, food and water is also being provided to the migrants for free:
Railways is charging only standard fare for this class from State Governments which is just 15% of the total cost incurred by Railways. Railways is not selling any tickets to migrants and is only boarding passengers based on lists provided by States: Railway Ministry Sources https://t.co/TiPKcBBTHZ— ANI (@ANI) May 4, 2020
Indian Railways is running Shramik special trains keeping berths empty in each coach to maintain social distancing. The trains are returning empty from destinations under lock & key. Free food and bottled water is being given to migrants by railways: Railway Ministry Sources pic.twitter.com/MJKnI28jxn— ANI (@ANI) May 4, 2020
So far, the government has been operating over 34 Shramik special trains from different parts of the country, depending on source and destination states' request.
Earlier, Sonia Gandhi in a statement announced that the party has taken a decision that every Pradesh Congress Committee shall bear the cost for the rail travel of every needy worker and migrant labourer and shall take necessary steps in this regard. She added that this will be the Congress’ "humble contribution in service of our compatriots" and to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with them. Attacking the government, Sonia Gandhi said that if the government can bring back citizens stranded abroad for free, why can't it extend the same courtesy of free rail travel to migrants.
"Our workers and labourers are the ambassadors of our nation’s growth. When our Government can recognise its responsibility by arranging free air travel for our citizens stranded abroad when the Government can spend nearly Rs.100 crores on transport and food etc. for just one public programme in Gujarat, when the Rail Ministry has the largesse to donate Rs. 151 Crores to the PM’s Corona fund, then why can’t these essential members of our nation’s fabric be given a fraction of the same courtesy, especially free rail travel, at this hour of acute distress?" the Congress President said.
Talked Piyush Goel office. Govt will pay 85% and State Govt 15% . Migrant labour will go free. Ministry will clarify with an official statement— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) May 4, 2020