Coronavirus | Bihar appeals for non-stop trains to bring back migrants

It will not be possible to bring them back by bus: Sushil Modi

April 30, 2020 06:23 pm | Updated 06:51 pm IST - PATNA

Migrant labourers from Bihar stranded in Andhra Pradesh resort to walking to reach their native place reach Vijayawada on April 15, 2020.

Migrant labourers from Bihar stranded in Andhra Pradesh resort to walking to reach their native place reach Vijayawada on April 15, 2020.

Bihar on Thursday urged the Union government to run special non-stop trains to bring back 27 lakh people of the State stuck in distant places because of the lockdown. The appeal came a day after the Centre issued an order, allowing the States to bring back students , migrants and tourists stranded in other States.

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“Since the Central government has passed the order, I’ll appeal to it to run special non-stop trains to bring back those people from far-off places like Surat and Porbandar in Gujarat, Chennai, Bangalore, Maharashtra and Delhi,” Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said.

In a two-minute video released to journalists, Mr. Modi said it would not be “possible to bring back such a large number of stranded people by bus as it will take months”. “Over five lakh people stranded in Delhi, 2.68 lakh in Maharashtra, over two lakh in Gujarat...over one lakh in Karnataka have applied for the relief to the office of the Chief Minister,” he said.

The Bihar government appointed the Principal Secretary of the Disaster Management Department, Pratyaya Amrit, as the nodal officer to supervise the process of bringing back the stranded people, he said.

Also read | Migrants’ return home will lead to fourth lockdown: Bihar BJP chief

Mr. Amrit has constituted a team of 20 IAS officials with their phone numbers listed for the stranded people to contact and convey their desire to return to Bihar.

“The stranded people should come by the special non-stop train while maintaining social distance and we’ll welcome them here... We’ll do screening and quarantine them in their homes or at relief camps set up by the government at the block level,” Mr. Modi said.

Also read | Centre tells States to set up camps for migrant workers

But the Opposition parties have criticised the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government for “inability” to bring back the stranded people. “If the Uttar Pradesh government can bring back its people stuck in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, why not the Bihar government? Can this double-engine government, formed after robbing people’s mandate, not even do this for the poor people of the State? The Chief Minister himself has to answer,” Leader of the Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav wrote on Twitter, while making an offer of 2,000 buses to the government to bring back the stranded people.

Congress leader and MLC Prem Chandra Mishra said, “If the State government is unable to bring back those stranded in other States, it should request the Chief Ministers of the Congress-ruled States to provide them with buses. They will help them out.”

Jan Adhikar Party leader and former Madhepura MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav said, “I’ve sent 30 buses to Kota, Rajasthan, to bring back the stranded students. But the number of students is more, so the government should send all its 650 buses there to bring them back.”

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The parents of students stranded in Kota appeared anxious.

“It is over a month since lockdown, and our children are stranded there, but the government has become so insensitive that it is not even making an effort to bring them back. We’ll not forget this conduct of the Nitish Kumar government,” said the father of an 18-year-old student undergoing coaching in Kota for admission to a medical course.

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