Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren is the latest to join the tussle between the Centre and the states on the question of bringing back migrant workers to their homes. On Thursday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that arrangements had been made for the return of migrant workers by 105 trains over a period of one month.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal responded to Banerjee’s statements by claiming that the state needed to run 105 trains a day if it wanted to get back all its citizens stranded across the country.
On Friday, the union railway minister repeated his attacks against, mainly Opposition-governed states – West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand – which he claimed were not accepting the 1,200 trains being offered by the railway ministry to get the stranded passenger to their homes.
“We can start 300 trains daily but there are states which are giving very few permissions to trains. UP has given permissions to 400 trains, Bihar to 200 trains. But West Bengal has so far given permission to only 7 trains. Jharkhand’s CM also issued a statement that he was ready to accept his people in the state. Then why aren’t these states giving us permission to run the required number of trains,” Goyal said.
Responding to the claims of the union railways minister, Hemant Soren, in a series of tweets, said that his state had given NOCs to 110 trains.
He also posted a letter written by Jharkhand’s chief secretary to home secretary requesting permission to operate a chartered plane to Andaman and Nicobar Islands to bring back over 300 workers of his state.
‘It's been FOUR days & we are still awaiting necessary clearances/ NOC from @PIBHomeAffairs to initiate the process. Jharkhand Govt will bear the costs of the flights to Ranchi, if MHA permits us. We need a humane approach now & be sensitive to those who have faced the worst,’ he said in a statement issued on Twitter.
An official close to the Jharkhand CM said that Soren was the first CM to speak to the railway minister, to write to the home minister and the prime minister requesting that the stranded migrant workers of his state be brought back by special trains.
“The first special train was thus initiated by this pressure from Telenagana to Ranchi. Since then there's been a steady flow of migrant workers via trains and buses to Jharkhand from other states. But with around 7 lakh workers registered on the state portal expressing the desire to return, it's a Herculean task , much bigger in scale and size than the Vande Bharat mission,” the official close to the Soren said requesting anonymity.
According to a press release issued by the Railway Ministry, as on 14 May 2020, a total of 800 Shramik Special train services were run across the nation, through which more than 10 lakh passengers reached their home states.