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Karnataka to Charge One-way Bus Fare For Ferrying Migrant Workers

Representative picture.  (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Representative picture. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

The decision was taken after the migrant workers complained to the state government that the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) was charging them to and fro fare as the buses will return to the depots empty.

Bengaluru: Karnataka would charge only one-way fare for ferrying migrant workers in buses to their native places across the state and neighbouring states, an official said on Saturday.

"Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has directed the state-run transport corporation to charge migrant workers only one-way fare for commuting to their native places," the official said in a statement.

The decision was taken after the migrant workers complained to the state government that the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) was charging them to and fro fare as the buses will return to the depots empty after dropping them at their respective places.

"As per the Union Home Ministry guidelines issued on April 29, the state government is making arrangements to send migrant workers back to their native places within or outside the state by buses or special trains as the lockdown has been further extended to May 17 to contain the coronavirus spread," the official said.

According to the state's labour department, there are over 2 lakh migrant workers stranded in different relief camps in cities and towns across the southern state, as trains and buses were suspended since the lockdown was enforced on March 25.

"As per the guidelines, the migrant workers are screened to ensure they are healthy and free from the virus before boarding the special buses, which will be allowed to take only 50 per cent of their capacity to maintain physical distancing," said the official.

The state government has also decided to quarantine the migrant workers returning to Karnataka from other states in buses or trains to ensure they are free from the infection.

"The state government has decided to issue one-day, one-time inter-district pass to the people stranded in other cities and towns during the lockdown to return to their homes or for work," said the official.

In accordance with the guidelines, the state government has designated a dozen senior IAS officers as nodal officers to manage the exodus or influx of migrant workers.

The Chief Minister held meetings through video-conferencing with the deputy commissioners, superintendents of police, zilla parishad chief executive officers (CEOs) and district health officials on the movement of the migrant workers within the state and outside.

"Migrant workers willing to stay back in the state and report to work from May 4 when industries and factories reopen in the private sector and construction of buildings, roads and highways resumes will be provided buses to shift them to their work place, as per the lockdown norms," noted the official.

The Centre on May 1 allowed states across the country to further relax lockdown norms in their green and orange zones, which are free from the virus, to resume economic activities in them but not in the containment or red zones.

"Food grains will be available in social welfare hostels for public distribution and for migrant labourers who stay back to resume work," added the official.

Elected representatives and top officials of Bagalkote, Belagavi, Bengaluru Urban and Rural, Dakshina Kannada, Mysuru and Vijayapura districts from across the state participated in the virtual meeting with the Chief Ministers and some cabinet ministers.

In a related development, Yediyurappa held a video conference with his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik and Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on the safe transportation of migrant workers from the eastern state working in Karnataka.

"The Chief Minister told Patnaik that his government was taking care of the migrant workers from his state and will arrange a special train to transport those who want to go back to Odisha or ensure their welfare if they are staying back to resume work," added the official.