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Bihar CM Nitish Issues First Statement On Migrants Travel Row; Says State Paying Railways

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has clarified that the state government is paying to Railways the expenses of the transportation of migrant workers and labourers

As the Congress party tried to politicise the issue of ticket fares of migrant workers, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in a video message has clarified that the state government is paying its share of the costs to Railways, comprising the expenses of the transportation of migrant workers and labourers.

"The state government is taking care of the labourers until they reach their destination. The labourers will be transferred to quarantine centres for 21 days and all the costs will be borne by the state and if any costs incurred by the labourers will be reimbursed," the Bihar CM said. He also thanked the Centre for responding positively to the situation of the migrant workers and listening to the appeal of state governments in this regard.

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Railway clarifies

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. The Railways said it is charging 15 percent fare from the state governments and rest of the expenses will be borne by the railways itself. According to Railway Ministry sources, the Railways is also providing free food and bottled water, to the migrants travelling in the special trains which will also observe social distancing.

Congress' allegedly politicises the issue

Earlier on Monday, Congress president 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.

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Sonia Gandhi also attacked the Central government by saying that if the government can bring back citizens stranded abroad 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.

It was clarified, however, that the Centre would bear 85% cost, states 15% cost, and migrant labourers would have to pay nothing for their fares.

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