MHA makes States/UTs responsible for receiving, sending migrant workers to/from railway stations
In the wake of the ongoing tussle between the Centre and West Bengal, the Union Home Ministry on Tuesday took over the control of operating trains for migrant labourers. Invoking powers vested in the Disaster Management Act, the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued new Standard Operating Protocols (SoP) which entitles Railways to allow Shramik Special trains in consultation with Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) without any consultation with the State Governments.
The Home Ministry has put the responsibility on the States to inform the migrant workers about the schedule of trains and bring the stranded people to nearby railway stations.
“Ministry of Railways (MoR) would permit movement of Shramik Special trains in consultation with MHA. All States/ UTs should designate nodal authorities and make necessary arrangements for receiving and sending such stranded persons. Based on the requirements of States/UTs, the train schedule, including stoppages and destination would be finalized by MoR. The same would be communicated by MoR to the States/UTs for making suitable arrangements for sending and receiving such stranded workers,” the Home secretary has written in his note.
Earlier, the railways decided on the allotment of trains in consultation with the States. The problem started when the Centre accused the West Bengal Government of not taking steps to facilitate movement of trains to the State with migrant workers.
“Publicity of train schedule, protocols for entry and movement of passengers, services to be provided in coaches, and arrangements with States/UTs for booking of tickets would be done by MoR. Sending States/ UTs and MoR would ensure that all passengers are compulsorily screened and only symptomatic passengers are allowed to board the train.
Social distancing to be observed by all passengers during boarding and travel. On arrival at their destination, the travelling passengers will have to adhere to such health protocols as are prescribed by the destination State/UT,” said MHA Secretary’s letter detailing the new SoPs in trains.
In another letter also the Home Secretary urged the States to have proactive coordination with Railways on handling the migrant labourers movement and dispatching the labourers walking on road to nearby railway stations. The MHA asked States to run more buses to ensure the smooth transition, especially at the inter-State borders. The Home Secretary told the States to engage district administrations in coordination with Railways and keeping register on movements by the designated nodal officers.
“More clarity may be given about departure of trains/ buses, as lack of clarity coupled with rumours caused unrest amongst the workers. Arrangement of designated rest places, with adequate facilities for sanitation, food and healthcare, could be made by the States on routes where migrants are known to be already travelling on foot. District Authorities may guide workers moving on foot to designated rest places, nearby bus terminals or railway stations by arranging transportation. District Authorities may involve NGO representatives at rest places etc, to alleviate the notion of long quarantine at rest places,” said MHA in a detailed communication enlisting the procedures to bring stranded and walking people on roads to nearby railway stations.
Wednesday, 20 May 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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