Chaos at stations, Maharashtra calls out Railways for cover-up job

43 trains scheduled to West Bengal in one day, when asked for two, says State minister

May 27, 2020 12:41 am | Updated 12:41 am IST - Mumbai

Rushing home:  Migrant workers crowd outside Lokmanya Tilak Terminus in Mumbai on Tuesday to catch Shramik Special trains at their home towns.

Rushing home: Migrant workers crowd outside Lokmanya Tilak Terminus in Mumbai on Tuesday to catch Shramik Special trains at their home towns.

While there was no let up in the political slugfest between the Centre and Maharashtra governments over the running of Shramik Specials, there was chaos outside Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) late on Tuesday night.

With several trains scheduled in the evening, over 5,000 people gathered outside both stations.

Senior Railways officials said since there was little movement on Tuesday morning, many trains were rescheduled for evening. Officials said that the crowd eased by around 11 p.m. after three trains departed from both stations.

“An additional eight to ten trains are scheduled and we tehy keep them running till around 3 a.m.,” a senior official said.

The political storm over Shramik Special trains continued on Tuesday with the Railways claiming that only a fraction of the 145 trains they had kept ready could be run.

The war of words on Tuesday was kicked off by Union Minister for Railway Piyush Goyal who took to Twitter asking the Maharashtra Government to fully cooperate in ensuring to bring passengers to stations on time, and not cause further delays. “On request of Maharashtra Govt, we arranged 145 Shramik Special Trains today. These trains are ready since morning. 50 trains were to leave till 3 pm but only 13 trains have due to lack of passengers,” he tweeted.

A Central Railway (CR) statement said they had planned 145 Shramik Specials for May 26 with 68 trains to Uttar Pradesh, and 41 to West Bengal. By 6 p.m. only two had left for West Bengal, both from Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The trains scheduled for other States included Bihar (27), Chattisgarh (1), Orissa (2), Tamil Nadu (2), Rajasthan (1), Jharkhand (1), Uttarakhand (1) and Kerala (1).

‘Don’t play victim’

State Transport Minister Anil Parab on Tuesday slammed the Railways for playing the victim card and said it was trying to discredit the Maharashtra government by announcing now that they were ready with 145 trains.

“We get the schedule at 2.30 a.m. and a lot of the trains are expected to depart before noon the same day. After doing bandobast duty for namaaz, the police personnel return home and see at 8 a.m. that they need to prepare for trains at noon, which is not possible,” he said. Mr. Parab added that the Railways was trying to cover up its own follies and cited the example of the Gorakhpur- bound train being diverted through Orissa.

Mr. Parab said that till May 24, as many as 555 trains had been run and they had asked for 172 trains from May 26 of which 48 trains were for West Bengal. “In one day, they scheduled 43 trains for West Bengal, though the State government asked us to send only two trains everyday because of the cyclone. Despite knowing about the request, the Railways deliberately scheduled 43 trains in one day only to portray itself as the victim,” he said.

Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, in a press interaction on Tuesday, said 600 trains for migrant workers had been run in all for which Railways had spent ₹300 crore.

On Sunday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had said that only 50% of the trains demanded by the State government for migrant workers were being run.

Mr. Goyal later responded to this with a series of tweets asking the State to send a list of workers. He added that they were ready to run as many as 125 trains.

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