Hours after a meeting between Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and property builders, the state government cancelled all trains that were to send stranded migrant workers back to their hometowns.
"The COVID-19 situation in the state is in control as compared to other states. Barring the red zones, business, construction work and industrial activities have to be resumed. In this background, it was explained that unnecessary travel of the migrant workers has to be controlled," Yediyurappa said after the meeting.
Nodal officer for Karnataka in-charge of migrants’ movement wrote to the railways on Tuesday asking for the trains scheduled for Wednesday to be cancelled.
"About 10,000 labourers who wanted to go to Bihar were at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre. They said they wanted to go home following which we requested the railways for trains. Yesterday (Tuesday), Yediyurappa held a meeting with construction agencies — Metro, BIAL and all infrastructure projects which are going on. The chief minister directed them to start all work immediately. Afterwards, migrant labourers at BIEC were all told that work will start. They were also told about the chief minister’s meeting. All of them have gone back. We have informed that trains scheduled for Wednesday will not be required. Three trains scheduled for Bihar now stand cancelled," Manjunath Prasad, nodal officer for Karnataka for inter-state movement told CNN News18.
"These are people who have come to work in Bangalore. Once there is employment, normalcy will get established… so why go back then? Those who still want to go back can do so using their own vehicle," he added.
The state government had requested for two trains each day for five days starting May 2 except on May 6 when three trains were arranged for 9am, 12 noon and 3pm for going to Dhanbad, Bihar. All three have been cancelled.
Two Shramik Special trains left on Tuesday, one at 7pm from Chikbanawara to Lucknow with 1,199 passengers and another at 7.10pm from Malur to Barkakana (Jharkhand) with 1,200 onboard.
The workers who took the trains back home were made to shell out Rs 800 to 1,200 per ticket depending on the destination, and also the fare for the state-run BMTC buses which ferried them to the railway station.
The state has more than two lakh migrant labourers from different parts of the country and from Bangladesh and Nepal. More than 80,000 of them are from Orissa and about 70,000 are from Bihar, according to labour department's records taken during the pandemic.