Migrant workers | Row over sharing of train fares

Punjab refutes Centre’s claim that 85% of the fare is borne by the Railways

Updated - May 07, 2020 02:06 am IST

Published - May 06, 2020 02:05 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Home at last:  Migrant workers  bowing after they reached  the Hatia   railway station in Jharkhand  on Wednesday.

Home at last: Migrant workers bowing after they reached the Hatia railway station in Jharkhand on Wednesday.

The Railways on Wednesday said 122 Shramik Special trains had been run since May 1. “Till 1800 hrs [6 p.m.] today [Wednesday], we had run 122 trains,” a spokesperson said.

Till Tuesday, the Railways had run 93 such trains. On Tuesday, Union Home Ministry spokesperson Punya Salila Srivastava said these special trains had so far ferried nearly 70,000 migrants.

Full coverage | Lockdown displaces lakhs of migrants

Punjab clarifies

Meanwhile, amid a controversy over migrants being asked to shell out the fares for their travel, the Punjab government had said it was bearing the entire cost of travel for such people, and not a subsidised amount as claimed by the Centre.

While the Railways have said that the sending State needs to pay the consolidated fare and it is their prerogative to decide whether or not passengers are charged, the Centre has claimed that 85% of the cost of the Shramik Specials will be borne by the Railways and the remaining by the States.

“FAQ: Is Punjab Government paying 100% of the Railway Fare for the migrants travelling out of Punjab to their home states? Or, just 100% of 15%-- implying that 85% is being paid for the Indian Railways,” Punjab Special Chief Secretary K.B.S. Sindhu tweeted.

Coronavirus lockdown | ‘Sending States’ should pay fare of migrant workers, say Railways

He said there was no official document explaining the 85% share of the Centre. The Punjab government was paying 100% of what the passenger was being asked to pay to board a train. “Everything else is either misleading or just notional,” he said.

Mr. Sidhu added that the Railway authorities insisted on advance payment before delivering the tickets and were not accepting government-to-government billing. The Punjab government was also paying for the bus that ferried people from their homes to the railway station.

Mr. Sidhu said that 1,188 passengers were selected from a database, and sent messages to prepare for their travel. They were also sent details of the bus location and timing. On the way to the railway station, the passengers were first brought to a screening centre, where they were also handed tickets, without collecting any cash. They were then transported to the railway station where boarding was done in phases.

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