Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said he was deeply pained by the death of 24 labourers in a road accident in Uttar Pradesh's Auraiya district on Saturday morning, and stressed that the incident underlines the necessity for states receiving migrants to allow limited air, road and rail travel.
At least 24 migrant workers were killed and 36 injured when a trailer rammed into a stationary truck, both carrying passengers, on a highway near Auraiya.
"Deeply pained to hear about the unfortunate deaths of migrant workers in the Auraiya accident," Puri said on Twitter.
"This underlines the necessity for stakeholders, including receiving states, to ease restrictions for all affected people, particularly migrants and allow limited air, road and rail connections," the minister added.
Some of the workers coming from Delhi had stopped for tea when the accident occurred between 3 am and 3.30 am on the Auraiya-Kanpur Dehat stretch of National Highway 19, police said.
The impact of the collision, the latest in a series of road tragedies involving migrant workers returning to their villages, was so huge that both vehicles overturned and fell into a ditch.
Most of those killed were from Jharkhand and West Bengal, and some from Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, officials said.
India has been under lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of coronavirus, which has infected around 86,000 people and killed more than 2,700 people in the country till now.
A large number of migrant workers from major urban industrial centres in the country have been moving with their families towards their home states, often walking and also in cramped trucks and other vehicles, during the nearly two-month-long lockdown due to COVID-19.