Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Sunday sought cooperation of the state governments in running special trains for transportation of stranded migrant workers from different parts of the country to various destinations and said as many as 350 such trains carrying 3.5 lakh labourers have been run so far.
The cabinet secretary's appeal came a day after the West Bengal government and the Centre engaged in a war of words over running the "Shramik Special" trains to the state.
Mr Gauba made the appeal during a video conference, attended by chief secretaries and health secretaries of all states and Union territories, convened to review the status of COVID-19 management.
"At the outset, the cabinet secretary noted that more than 350 "Shramik Special" trains have been run by the railways carrying 3.5 lakh migrant workers," an official statement said.
"He requested the state governments to cooperate with the railways in running more "Shramik Special" trains," it said.
The cabinet secretary took note of the cooperation of the states in the Centre's "Vande Bharat Mission" to bring back stranded Indians from abroad.
He emphasised that movements of doctors, nurses and paramedics should be totally unhindered and all steps be taken to facilitate and protect "corona warriors". The chief secretaries briefed about the situation in their respective states and said that while protection is required from COVID-19, economic activities also need to be stepped up in a calibrated manner, the statement said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday had accused the West Bengal government of not allowing trains to ferry stranded migrants to their home, but the state refuted the charge, saying 6,000 migrants had already returned and 10 trains carrying more labourers would arrive soon.
Soon, the railway officials had rejected the claim by the state government.
TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee also had accused Shah of spreading a "bundle of lies" and challenged him to prove his allegations or apologise, prompting the BJP to hit back by saying that the state government was only making arrangements to bring back people from a particular community.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)