Talking exclusively to Republic TV on Monday, Punjab Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa revealed that the state government would pay for the migrants' train journey to their native places. He slammed the Centre for not helping in the evacuation of the Sikh pilgrims in Nanded. At the same time, he stated that the modalities of the payment of train tickets for the migrants would be discussed by the Punjab Cabinet.
Punjab Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa observed, "When the Sikh pilgrims were stranded in Nanded, the Centre told us to take buses. The buses covered a two-way journey of 1700 km each. The government which cannot give money for 3000 people, what can we think about such a government? The Punjab government will pay for the tickets of our workers stranded in other places. We will pay for the trains."
On the modalities of the payment of train tickets for migrants, he said, "Let the train come first. Let PM Modi inform us that they have sent the train. We will talk in the Cabinet on how we can do this."
The Ministry of Railways decided to run Shramik Special trains to transport migrants across the country after the MHA allowed the inter-state movement of stranded persons. On May 2, it issued detailed guidelines in this regard. Each Shramik Special train will run non-stop and will halt at a single destination more than 500 km away from the originating station. Moreover, the occupancy of the trains must not be less than 90%.
The Railways will directly hand over the tickets to the state government which in turn shall pass them on to the approved passengers after collecting the designated fare from them. This clause has drawn criticism from opposition leaders. Earlier in the day. Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced that every Pradesh Congress Committee shall bear the cost for the rail travel of the migrant workers.
Statement Of Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi— Congress (@INCIndia) May 4, 2020
The Indian National Congress 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 pic.twitter.com/kxruKa0xgI
In her statement, she lashed out at the Union government for not extending free travel facility to the migrant workers at a juncture when the Ministry of Railways has donated Rs.151 crore to the PM CARES fund. Subsequently, the Ministry of Railways sources clarified that the migrant workers were not being charged. They added that the Centre and the state government is paying 85% and 15% of the ticket cost respectively.