New Delhi: In a fresh set of standard operating procedures for shramik trains for migrant labourers, the clause for consent of states has been done away with. In its fresh SOP for movement of stranded labourers, the Ministry of Home Affairs said the “movement of shramik trains shall be permitted by Ministry of Railways in consultation with Ministry of Home Affairs”.
This is in contrast to the May 2 notification by the railway ministry which said that consent of states will be sought for shramik special trains. "In case a group of stranded persons wish to move between one state/UT and another, the sending and receiving states may consult each other and mutually agree to the movement by rail," the previous SOP had said.
"The consent of receiving states shall be obtained by originating state and a copy provided to railways before departure of train," it had said.
The ministry’s latest notification on Tuesday omitted any reference to consent and said nodal officers will make necessary arrangements to receive and send stranded labourers. It also said train schedules, including stoppage and destinations, will be finalised by the railways.
While issuing the revised SOP, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said states and union territories should designate nodal authorities and make necessary arrangements for receiving and sending such stranded people.
Officials in the railway ministry confirmed that the consent of state, which will receive migrants, is no longer required. The state from where the special trains will originate will give the list of passengers to railways.
According to the fresh SOP, the train schedule, including stoppages and destination, shall be finalised by the ministry of railways based on the requirements of states and Union Territories, and shall be communicated by the railways to states and Union Territories for making suitable arrangements for sending and receiving such stranded workers.
Officials said the ministry of railways will ensure more halts of the special trains for the convenience of migrant workers.
The SOP said the train schedule, protocols for entry and movement of passengers, services to be provided in coaches, and arrangements with states and UTs for booking of tickets shall be publicised by the MOR.
Sending states and UTs as well as the MOR will ensure passengers are compulsorily screened, and only asymptomatic passengers are allowed to board the trains, it said. During boarding and travel, all passengers will have to observe social distancing.
On their arrival, passengers will have to adhere to health protocols prescribed by the destination state or UT, the SOP said.
Home Minister Amit Shah had earlier written to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying migrants wanting to return to the state are stranded because her government had not given its consent to their return.
A separate statement made by the home ministry, however, on Tuesday said proactive coordination among states and railways is essential to run more trains for smooth transport of migrant workers. It also said district authorities must give their requirements to railways. The statement called for greater publicity of train schedule, stoppage timing and other details to dispel any rumours.
(With inputs from PTI)