New Delhi, May 1 (TheIndianExpress) – After almost 40 days of lockdown, the first train carrying about 1,000 migrant labourers set off from Lingampally in Telangana for Hatia in Jharkhand at 5 am on Friday.
Shrouded in secrecy, the move came after a meeting between Home and Railways ministries late Thursday. Other trains are also being planned, sources said. Although officially Railways is saying, till now, it is a one-off affair.
RD Bajpai, spokesman, Ministry of Railways said: “Today morning, a One-off special train was run from Lingampalli to Hatia on request of the State Government of Telangana and as per the directions of Ministry of Railways. All necessary precautions such prior screening of passengers, maintaining social distancing at the station and in the train were followed.
This was only a “one-off Special train” and any further trains shall be planned only as per the directions of Ministry of Railways and on request from both the Originating and Destination State Governments.”
The 24-coach train of unreserved coaches will reach Hatia near Ranchi at 11 pm, according to the schedule prepared by Railways. The non-stop train will have only operational halt for crew changing and watering. The train has 54 people per coach and its route will be through Ballharshah and Nagpur in Maharashtra, then Raipur and eastwards towards Jharkhand. Railway Protection Force has been deployed to ensure proper social distancing measures. The coaches were sanitised before being rolled into the platform.
“Our men are on board. Everything is being arranged, like food, protective gear and social distancing,” RPF DG Arun Kumar told The Indian Express.
This comes two days after Centre allowed movement of those stranded, but in buses only, leading to a clamour from states like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and others to demand trains instead. CM of Jharkhand Hemant Soren spoke to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal about it, Jharkhand has about 9 lakh migrants stranded across India, and especially in South India. On Thursday, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi had also joined in the chorus demanding trains from the centre for transportation of migrants.