The Punjab government Tuesday said it has sanctioned Rs 35 crore to bear the cost of rail travel of migrant labourers who want to return to their home states in Shramik Special trains.
The first Shramik Special carrying 1,200 migrant workers left for Jharkhand from Punjab's Jalandhar railway station on Tuesday.
"The Punjab Government has sanctioned Rs 35 crore, in the first phase, towards its share of the migrants' cost of transportation by the Indian Railways," said a government statement here.
The state government expects that five to six lakh stranded migrant labourers could opt for train travel to return to their home states from Punjab, with the rest expected to go by road.
Taking Rs 640 as the average ticket price, the state executive committee has approved Rs 35 crore as the initial amount needed. The funds have been sanctioned under the National Disaster Relief Act, 2005, said the statement.
Twenty-five per cent of the sanctioned amount has been transferred on immediate basis to the Deputy Commissioners, who have been authorized to pay to the Railways directly and give tickets to the registered passengers.
"The remaining will be transferred to the DCs, who have been asked to prepare state-wise lists of stranded migrants wanting to go back to their native places, on a daily basis," it said.
As per data available, more than eight lakh migrant labourers have registered themselves on the state government's specially created portal for returning to their home states.
A large number of labourers come to Punjab seasonally from UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and other eastern states for temporary employment in both industrial and agricultural sectors in Punjab.
They could not leave in March, as they usually do, due to the imposition of the national lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.