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Rescheduling of trains disappoints migrant workers

Desperate to return to their native states, dozens of migrant workers come to the Dr MGR Chennai Central railway station every day, but only to be disappointed because the several trains are rescheduled.

Rescheduling of trains disappoints migrant workers


While the workers are unhappy about the endless wait, officials say it is their failure to follow the process that led to the delay.

“My wife and two daughters have been struggling to go back home for more than a month now. I am trying to seek help from other migrants who are on these trains. I walk to the station hoping that they might take us along,” said Raghuveer Singh from Uttar Pradesh.

Guddu from Odisha said he has been staying in a relief camp near the station for more than a week. “They tell me once in two days that today I can board the train. But it gets cancelled all the time. I want to go back home somehow but I don’t know what to do,” he said.

After going through similar struggle, many from West Bengal, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have returned from the relief camps and are now searching for job. Sonu Kumar, a carpenter, was told by his company officials that they would call him when the work restarts. But he is yet to receive that call. “I was at the relief camp for five days but I returned after failing to board the train,” said Sonu who is now looking for a job.

However, officials said many of the scheduled trains had to be cancelled as there are only a few migrants left to be sent back.

The workers who turn up at the stations without registering for Shramik trains are taken to the relief camps where they are registered and taken on trains whenever they are scheduled, said Atulya Mishra, Revenue Secretary and designated officer overseeing the return of migrants. Explaining the reason for the delay in scheduling trains, he said the services are planned after discussing with the respective states. “A lot of migrants returned to work after the restrictions were eased,” Mishra added.

There are around 23,000 migrants in shelter homes, most of whom are from West Bengal, he said. “We were able to get the approval from Bengal government a little late due to the cyclone,” said the official.

SR transported 5.5 lakh migrants since May 1

Most of the trains have been remaining idle ever since the lockdown was imposed, but not the officials of the Southern Railway. In the last five weeks since May 1, the zonal railway operated more than 400 trains to transport about 5.49 lakh migrant workers back to their states.

Statistics from the railways show that more than a quarter of the 404 trains were operated to Bihar – 110 so far – followed by West Bengal (80) and Uttar Pradesh (65). In addition, close to 50 trains each were operated to Jharkhand and Odisha too, said a senior SR official.

A chunk of the Sharmik Special trains commenced journey from Dr MGR Chennai Central railway station. Of the trains operated for migrant workers from Tamil Nadu (238 trains), Kerala (143), Puducherry and parts of Karnataka (20), 63 originated from Chennai Central station. It was followed by Coimbatore and Tirupur from where 36 and 29 Sharmik Specials were operated.

The zone deployed a dedicated team train crew, ticket checking staff, supervisors and Railway Protection Force personnel on rotation basis to transport the 5.49 lakh migrant workers since May 1.

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