Make train arrangements free for migrants: Trade union to K’taka CM

The activists have also asked the govt to make the process transparent as many of the workers are in the dark and are crowding police stations.
Indian railways
Indian railways
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Unhappy with the state government’s action taken for stranded interstate migrants workers who want to leave Bengaluru for their respective home states, the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) have written to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa and Chief Secretary Vijay Bhaskar.

In an email dated May 10, AICCTU has asked for clarity on how these workers are being allowed to board the trains and highlighted the issue of many being in the dark about when their turn will come.

The email reads, “Vide SOP dated 01.05.2020 as per Ref. (1), workers were required to register themselves on an online platform Accordingly several workers registered themselves on the said website. However, they received no information in regard to the departure of trains. Around 2,14,269 migrant workers from about 23 States have registered on the Seva Sindhu website desiring to return to their home States.”

They added this has led to confusion among the registered workers rushing to police stations given the police are only arranging the travel from their areas to the train stations and giving them tickets.

Further, given most of the workers wishing to return home have wages due and were pushed into situations with no food, the AICCTU appealed that they are given free travel. This especially given the state government has failed to do labour inspection and ensure wages are paid.

The email also mentions the TNM report highlighting the same plight for many workers who had chosen to walk since they have no surety when the trains will arrive for them.

The AICCTU in their letter dated May 9 has mentioned that while the state government has submitted in the Karnataka High Court that 2,14,269 (2 lakh+) such workers of 23 states have registered with the government portal to return with the home states, the actual number of workers will be much higher given many workers won’t have access to the website or the technology.

In their letter, the union said, “We are proposing a matrix (table) as a way to schedule trains in respect of the wishes of the migrant workers to return to their homes at the end of this representation.”

The table details the number of stranded workers based on their home states, the best starting point of the trains and their present locations across Karnataka and the number of trains required to send them home.

For example, from Bengaluru to Jharkhand alone there is a need for 15 trains for a total of 17,429 workers identified by the union alone.  These 17,429 workers are further presently spread across Bengaluru Rural (441), Bengaluru Urban (16,743), Chamarajangara (25), Chikkaballapura (5) and Hassan (3) districts.

The AICCTU also highlighted the HC order stating that the wishes of stranded workers who are away from Bengaluru city also have to be respected if they want to return to their home states.

They pointed out, “To date the trains are only run from Chikkabanavara station and Malur (close to Bengaluru city), which is insufficient. Needless to add the State Government in consultation with the Railways would decide on the stations best suited to ensure that migrant workers from the nearby districts can be brought in buses to the said railways stations. Please do note that the Hon’ble High Court in its order dated 08.05.2020 in W.P. No. 6435/2020 has observed as follows… ‘If some migrant workers who are residing far away from the capital city desire to go back to their respective States and all the procedural formalities with the other States are completed, it follows that necessary arrangements for operation of Shramik Special Trains from different stations will have to be made’…”

So far the South Western Railway till Monday has run a total of 24 trains beginning May 3 from Bengaluru to states like Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal and Odisha among others. All these trains can carry a maximum of 1200 passengers given the mandatory social distancing norms.

It may be recalled that the train services were withdrawn by the state government unceremoniously and restarted forcing public backlash and a High Court hearing.

The letter mentioned that based on their rough estimates, it would require 187 train rides to 16 states based on the registrations. However, they reiterated the actual number wishing to go back will be higher given many won’t be familiar with registering themselves online.

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