Rs. 42 lakh loss as some trains ran empty: Maharashtra

Going home:Shramik Special trains were run to help stranded migrant workers.File photo

Going home:Shramik Special trains were run to help stranded migrant workers.File photo  

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that it incurred a loss of nearly Rs. 42 lakh due to the under utilisation of Shramik Special trains which were arranged to ferry migrant workers to their respective States following the lockdown induced by COVID-19.

Advocate General (AG) Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice A.S. Gadkari that this loss was because not enough workers availed the trains to return home. He said in fact now workers want to either stay in Maharashtra or return. Last month, the State government arranged trains to ferry thousands of migrant workers, but only 3,551 people used the trains, he added.

Mr. Kumbhakoni said a train was arranged from Pune to ferry 383 people to their native State, but on the day of the departure, only 49 people boarded the 24-coach train.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and raised issues related to migrant workers stranded due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Advocate Ronita Bhattacharya Bector, representing CITU, told the court that there were several migrant workers waiting to return to their homes in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

The Bench directed the AG to file an affidavit on the number of trains run and expenditure incurred by the State. It also directed the petitioner to file a rejoinder on how many workers were waiting to go back and to which State. In the previous hearing, Ms. Bector had told the court that in June there were 52,000 migrant workers in the State, 30,000 of whom were ready to return to their native places.

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