The Indian Railways has ferried over 50 lakh migrant workers on board 3,736 "Shramik Special" trains since May 1, according to official data.
Of these, 3,157 have already reached their destination. The top five states and UTs from where maximum trains originated are Gujarat (979), Maharashtra (695), Punjab(397), Uttar Pradesh (263) and Bihar (263). These Shramik Special Trains were terminated in various states across the country.
The top five states where maximum trains terminated their journey are Uttar Pradesh (1520), Bihar (1296), Jharkhand (167), Madhya Pradesh (121), Odisha (139).
"I am very happy to say that during this coronavirus pandemic, the railways' Shramik Special trains have ferried more than 50 lakh workers to their home state in a convenient and safe manner. Along with this, railways has also provided 84 lakh meals and 1.24 crore water bottles to them as well," Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said in a tweet.
The railways has distributed more than 85 lakh free meals and about 1.25 crore free water bottles to migrant workers travelling in these trains since May 1, it said.
"This includes meals being prepared by Indian Railways' PSU IRCTC and distributed by Zonal Railways. Food and water bottles are being provided to travelling migrants in all Shramik Special Trains."
"IRCTC is providing puri-vegetable-pickle, roti-vegetable-pickle, banana, biscuits, cake, namkeen, veg pulao, pao bhaji, lemon rice-pickle, upma, poha pickle etc. kind of meals to travelling migrants along with Rail Neer water bottles," the railways said.
The "Shramik Special" trains are being operated primarily on the request of states, which want to send migrant workers stranded due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown, to their native places.
While the Indian Railways is bearing 85 per cent of the total cost of running each train, the rest is being borne by states in the form of fares.
The coronavirus lockdown has had a devastating impact on the economy as well as on the livelihoods of lakhs of migrant workers. The stories of migrant workers walking from several urban centres to their villages hundreds of kilometres away had grabbed headlines for almost two months.
There have been incidents of many of them being killed in road accidents. A number of migrant labourers were killed by a speeding train after they fell asleep on the tracks.