Rail SOP for Shramik Special trains asking states to charge for services generate criticism

NEW DELHI: India n Railways has issued a series of transportation guidelines to transport stranded migrants across the country, saying that trains will travel only if they are 90 percent occupied and states should charge the ticket fee , fiercely inviting criticism for charging for their services.

A provision in the SOP, which drew a lot of criticism, said that the local state government will deliver the tickets for these passengers authorized by them and will collect the ticket fee and deliver the full amount to the Railways.

If you are trapped abroad during this Covid crisis, this government will take you back for free, but if you are a migrant worker stranded in another state, be prepared to pay the cost of the trip (with the cost of social distancing added) . Do you mind going? Like I said before, you better get stuck abroad and take you home! North Carolina leader tweeted Omar Abdullah .

In the SOP, the railroads said the responsibility for food, safety, health scanning, and providing tickets to the stranded will rest with the state from which the train originates. However, it has taken the burden of providing a meal for passengers whose journey will be 12 hours or more.

The CPM secretary general criticized the Union government for overloading the states and said the situation with migrant workers was the result of the Center's abrupt announcement of a lockout.

It is very unfair that all responsibility has been transferred to state governments. This problem was not caused by the states. In Parliament, the government said it bore the full cost of repatriating Indians trapped abroad. In the same way, the migrants should have been sent back.

Regardless, billions of rupees have been targeted, Yechury told PTI.

Railways launched special trains on Friday to transport migrant workers, students and others stranded in various parts of the country since the national shutdown began on March 25.

Normally, the national carrier said in the guidelines, Shramik special trains will run over distances of more than 500 km and will not stop at any station before destination. Each long-distance train with social distancing (not counting the intermediate bunks) can carry around 1,200 passengers.

The home state will plan the group of travelers accordingly. Train occupancy should not be less than 90 percent. Railways must print train tickets to the specified destination, based on the number of passengers indicated by the state of origin, and deliver them to the authority of the local state government.

The local state government authority will deliver the tickets to passengers authorized by them and collect the fare from the ticket and deliver the full amount to the railroads, the guidelines added.

The state government will issue food and drinking water packages at points of origin, he said.

All passengers will be required to wear face covers.

The home state will encourage all passengers to download and use the Aarogya Setu app, he said.

Upon arrival at the destination, passengers will be greeted by state government authorities, who will make all arrangements for review, quarantine, if necessary, and additional travel.

The receiving state will make appropriate security arrangements at the railway station.

The railways reserve the right to discontinue Shramik's special train operations if safety protocols are ignored at any stage, the guidelines issued to all zonal general managers said.

While the railways have yet to issue any clarification on the charges, officials said that as a carrier, the railroads were charging states for services rendered.

Rail officials said so far there have been no problems with states in payments, while some states like Jharkhand have already paid in advance, others like Gujarat have agreed to have an NGO sponsor part of the services.

Criticizing the decision to charge for travel, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav He said that exploiting the poor in times of disaster is the job of lenders, not the government.

The news that the BJP government takes money from poor and defenseless workers returning home by train is very embarrassing. Today it has become clear that the BJP, which forgives billions of capitalists, stands with the rich and against the poor. Exploiting during a disaster is the job of lenders, not the government, he said in a tweet in Hindi.

Karnataka Speaker of Congress DK Shivakumar said his party was ready to provide aid to the state government to pay the train fare for migrants.

Give KRRTC to KSRTC to KSRTC to guarantee free transportation to our working class and workers who are suffering from getting home due to the fees charged by the Karnataka government. The government must inform us if they need more, KPCC will comply with that too, he tweeted.