Goyal, Uddhav trade barbs over special trains

A minor political storm played out on Sunday after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray during his telecast said only 50% of the trains demanded by the State government for migrant workers were run by the Railways. A few hours later, Union Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal took to Twitter asking Mr. Thackeray to furnish the list of workers to Central Railway (CR), and they would readily run 125 trains on Monday.

In a series of tweets around 7.15 p.m., Mr. Goyal asked the government to send all the required details such as the destination of trains, medical certificates and the like to the CR’s general manager so they could plan the trains. He also said he hoped the trains would not come to the station and go back empty, as had occurred on previous instances. Later, he tweeted that the Railways had not received the list even after 2.5 hours.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Thackeray had said, “We have sought 80 trains daily for migrant labour to go back home, but only 50% trains are being allowed. We have the capacity to register more. The State paid ₹85 crore for 481 trains on which over six lakh workers have travelled till now.”

CR issued a statement saying the Railways had run 520 Shramik Special trains carrying 7,32,166 migrant workers until May 23, on demands given on daily basis by nodal officers of the State government. “So far Railways had to cancel 65 trains, after it was scheduled, for want of adequate preparations by State Government of Maharashtra. Certain States like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Kerala, Odisha, Rajasthan have been reluctant to give consent for receiving Shramik Special trains,” CR’s statement said. It said trains to places like Tirunelveli, Una, Rewa and Bilaspur didn’t run at full capacity, and there was not much demand from the State to run trains from districts like Nashik, Dhule, Amravati, Chandrapur and Akola.

“So far demands given by the Government of Maharashtra on day to day basis have been complied fully and in future too Railways is willing to supply trains as per the requirements and details given by State government,” it said.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut late at night tweeted the State had given the details to the Railways, and sarcastically said Mr. Goyal should ensure trains reached the correct destination.

Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis accused the State government of playing politics and blaming the Centre for its failure. “The Railway Minister is working really hard. But the ruling party is playing politics. It can’t control the COVID-19 situation in Mumbai and is therefore playing politics,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 2:25:22 PM |

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