New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday amended the consolidated guidelines once again to allow train movement to transport migrant workers, students, pilgrims and tourists stranded away from home across several states since the nationwide lockdown began last month.
Amending Clause 17 of the lockdown guidelines, the Union Home Secretary said, "The movement of migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons, stranded at different places, is also allowed by special trains to be operated by the Ministry of Railways."
The MHA said the Railways Ministry will appoint nodal officers to coordinate with states and issue detailed guidelines for social distancing and safety measures. Officials said those who travel by the train will have to bear the ticket cost but ticket sales will be coordinated between the district administration and the local railway authority.
"The Ministry of Railways-appointed nodal authority will issues detailed guidelines for the sale of ticket," said the MHA order.
The clarification from the MHA came even as 1,200 migrant labourers left Telangana's Lingampalli station at 5am on Friday. They are scheduled to reach Ranchi's Hatia station on Friday at about 11 pm. These workers were from Sangareddy, which was recently in the news for violent clashes between the labourers and administration.
Government officials confirmed that green signal has been given to trains from Kerala's Aluva to Bhubhaneshwar in Odisha, Nashik in Maharashtra to Uttar Pradesh state capital of Lucknow, Nashik to Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, Jaipur in Rajasthan to Patna in Bihar, and from Kota in Rajasthan to Hatia.
Trains from Rajasthan to Kerala and Karnataka and from Kochi to Bhubaneshwar have also received the go-ahead. MHA officials said both the receiving and the sending states will have to agree on social distancing and quarantine protocol before the Indian Railways allocates a train.
In Jharkhand, officials have arranged for buses to take the migrant labourers to their home districts. State transport officials told CNN-News18 that most of the workers coming back from Telangana are from Garhwa and Palamu districts. Four labourers are from Ranchi while the rest are from Bokaro. The state government has assured that the labourers will be screened when they reach Hatia and then sent to home or institutional quarantine. The MHA has asked states to ensure that quarantine protocol is strictly followed.