Railways Minister Piyush Goyal today urged people suffering from serious ailments, pregnant women, children and those above 65 years to travel in Shramik Special trains "only when necessary".
At least nine passengers were reported dead on May 27 over a span of 48 hours on board the migrant trains with the Railways stating that all of them had underlying health conditions.
"Ministry of Railways appeal that persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, children below the age of 10 years & persons above 65 years of age may avoid travel by rail in Shramik Special Trains except when it is essential," Mr Goyal retweeted an Indian Railways circular posted by Startup India.
Ministry of Railways appeals that persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, children below the age of 10 years & persons above 65 years of age may avoid travel by rail in Shramik Special Trains except when it is essential. #SafeRailwayspic.twitter.com/d3SJCNe5pK— Startup India (@startupindia) May 29, 2020
The order comes two days after a video of a baby playing next to its dead mother at a Bihar train station emerged on social media causing widespread anger. The woman's family said she died of hunger and extreme heat on a train from Gujarat to Bihar. The Railways, however, claimed she was unwell when she got on the train and died just before the train reached Muzaffarpur.
The circular by the Ministry of Railways states: "It has been observed that some people who are availing this service have pre-existing medical conditions which aggravate the risk they face during the COVID-19 pandemic. A few unfortunate cases of deaths related to pre-existing medical conditions while travelling has happened.
"In order to protect the vulnerable persons from COVID-19, in line with Ministry of Home Affairs, Order No 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated 17.05.2020, Ministry of Railways makes an appeal that persons with co-morbidities (for example - hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, immune deficiency conditions), pregnant women, children below the age of 10 years and persons above 65 years of age may avoid travel by rail, except when it is essential.
"Indian Railway parivaar is working 24X7 to ensure that rail services are provided to all the citizens of the country needing to travel. But safety of our passengers is our biggest concern. So, we seek the cooperation of all citizens in this matter. In case of any distress or emergency please do not hesitate to reach out to your railway parivaar and we will help you as always (Helpline number - 139 & 138)."
Mr Goyal also tweeted videos of water and food being supplied to migrants on Shramik trains a day after Supreme Court said this task was the duty of the Railways.