All states and union territories should ensure that migrant workers "do not resort to walking on road and on railway track,", the government said today, seeking cooperation of the states in counselling them and running more "Shramik" trains for the labourers stranded amid a country lockdown due to coronavirus. The state's letter to the states comes after 16 migrants in a group of 20 were run over by a cargo train last week while they were sleeping on rail tracks, prompting outpouring of condolences nationwide.
In a letter to the states and union territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla referred to the meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Sunday. "In the meeting, the situation of migrant workers walking on roads and railway tracks was noted with great concern," the letter reads.
"Since their movement by buses and ''Shramik'' special trains has already been allowed to enable their travel to native places, all State/UT governments should ensure that migrant workers do not resort to walking on road and on railway tracks," the Union Home Ministry wrote to the states today.
MHA writes to all States/UTs to cooperate with @RailMinIndia in running more #ShramikSpecialTrains without any hindrance & facilitate faster movement of stranded #MigrantWorkers to their native places.— Spokesperson, Ministry of Home Affairs (@PIBHomeAffairs) May 11, 2020
They may be counseled to not walk on roads & rail tracks.#COVID19pic.twitter.com/aQi70GFTFi
"In case they are found in such condition, they should be appropriately counselled, taken to nearby shelters and provided with food, water etc. till such time they are facilitated to board the Shramik Special trains or buses to their native places," the letter further read.
"I urge upon you all to allow receiving of all Shramik special trains without any hindrance and facilitate faster movement of stranded migrant workers to their native places," Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla appealed to the states.
Lakhs of migrants were stranded without jobs, food and money as a countrywide lockdown to tackle the pandemic began in March. Many of them were seen in heartbreaking pictures walking hundreds of kilometres on foot as transport services remained shut.
Earlier this month, the government started special "Shramik trains" to help them return to their hometowns.
Apart from Friday's incident, another accident involving migrant labourers was reported in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday. Five labourers were killed, 15 were injured when a truck they were travelling in overturned. They began their journey from Hyderabad.