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After Oppn Criticism, Nitish Says Students Won't Have to Pay Fare, Migrants to Get Full Reimbursement

File photo of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.

File photo of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.

The CM said Students' fares were being paid directly by his government to the railways, while migrant workers will be reimbursed the entire expenses they incurred on the journey once they have completed their 21-day quarantine after reaching Bihar.

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made it clear on Monday that his government will bear full expenses towards the homeward journey of students and migrant workers stranded outside the state because of the lockdown, in a rebuff to the opposition which has accused him of leaving them in the lurch.

In a video message, the chief minister said train fares of students were being paid directly by his government to the railways, while migrant workers will be reimbursed the entire expenses they incurred on the journey once they have completed their 21-day quarantine after reaching Bihar.

Every migrant worker will be taken to the block headquarter concerned from the railway station where they will have to stay in quarantine for 21 days.

Upon discharge, they will be reimbursed the money they would have spent for the travel in addition to an aid of Rs 500 each. Each migrant worker will be getting a minimum of Rs 1000 from the state government, Kumar said.

Regarding students, he said, no money is being charged to them for their return.

"Some trains have come from Kota..the money is being paid by the state government. But since there is some 'bayanbaazi' (political muckraking) on the issue, dispelling the confusion has become necessary," he said.

Kumar's statement was preceded by an offer from the Leader of the Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav for footing the bill for 50 such trains in the next five days.

The RJD leader had also taunted the government over revenue losses on account of prohibition, besides "splurging" on government advertisements and schemes like Jal-Jeevan-Hariyali that proposes to combat climate change.

The RJD leader had earlier accused the government of indifference towards students and migrants when it expressed its inability to bring them back by the busloads, like many other states did, citing lockdown restrictions and lack of adequate number of buses.

The chief minister, however, maintained that scrupulous adherence to the lockdown by his government has ensured that the COVID 19 outbreak remained under control in the state, the second-most populous in the country. Bihar has reported less than 600 cases and just four casualties so far, Kumar said.

He also said 19 lakh migrant workers stranded outside the state had been provided a financial assistance by his government during the lockdown period. "More such applications are being processed, while we are also bringing back those who want to return home."

Meanwhile, RJD national spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha seen as a mentor to the 30-year-old Yadav in the absence of the latter's politically astute father came out with a statement, alleging Kumar often acted under pressure from the opposition and he had done the same again.

"We can see his past record of four to six months. Nonetheless, we are happy that he has displayed a belated readiness to help out the migrant workers," Jha said, adding the government should now ensure that as many trains as possible are run and the return of migrants picks up speed.

"Let our poor brethren feel that their life is not without value in a world which is made beautiful by their toil but where they have been left high and dry," Jha said.