Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has written to Chief Secretaries of all states and UTs to ensure that there is no movement of migrant workers on roads and railway tracks, and facilitate their travel through special buses or Shramik special trains.
In the letter, Bhalla noted that despite the Ministry's earlier advise to State/UT authorities to appropriately counsel migrants walking on roads and provide them with food, water and shelter, thousands of them were still seen walking on roads, railway tracks and travelling in trucks in different parts of the country.
"Government has allowed the movement of migrant workers by buses and 'Shramik' special trains to enable them to travel to their native places. It is now the responsibility of States and Union Territories to ensure the movement of stranded migrant workers who are willing to go to their home States is facilitated," Ajay Bhalla wrote in the letter.
He asked local authorities to widely disseminate the arrangements for travel in special buses/Shramik trains amongst the workers and persuade/counsel them that they should not be walking when they can avail state-sponsored modes of transport.
The letter comes amid the widespread media coverage of the migrant exodus from cities and other urban areas to their native states, particularly in North and Eastern India. Dozens of migrants have died during their arduous journey back home, with fresh reports of accidents on roads and railway tracks coming almost daily. The sheer size of the exodus has overwhelmed local authorities who are grappling between maintaining lockdown norms on one side and restrict this exodus on the other.
In a major step towards easing of restrictions, the Ministry of Railways on May 10 announced that 15 pair of trains (30 return journeys) will run from New Delhi station to Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Mumbai Central, Bengaluru, Jammu Tawi, Bhubaneswar, Ranchi, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Ahmedabad, Secunderabad, and Chennai from May 12. It also promised to start special trains on new routes depending on the available coaches after reserving 20,000 coaches for the COVID-19 Care Centres and an adequate number of coaches to enable operation of up to 300 Shramik Special trains. The tickets will be available for sale from 4 pm on Monday, May 11 solely on the IRCTC website.