States and Union Territories have been asked to provide information on the number of travellers, origin and destination stations

The Indian Railways has said that it will continue to provide Shramik Special trains to states as per their demand to transport migrant workers back to their homes. The railways have already operated more than 4347 Shramik Special trains to ferry more than 6 million migrant labourers back to their native places since May 1 amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The chairman of the Railway Board, Vinod Kumar Yadav, had written to various state governments on May 29 and June 3 requesting for the projected demand for the Shramik Special trains and emphasising that the Indian Railways would provide the desired number of trains within 24 hours of notice.

The chairman sent another letter to the chief secretaries of states today, reiterating its commitment to fulfilling the demand for the trains swiftly within 24 hours and seeking a comprehensive residual demand for the trains by June 10, the ministry said in an official statement..

The state and Union Territory (UT) governments have been asked to provide information on the number of travellers, origin and destination stations, a schedule and the dates by which the transportation will be concluded, via an official letter by June 10. In his letter, the chairman also said that Indian Railways will also meet any additional demand over and above the projections within short notice.

This announcement from the Indian Railways comes hours after the Supreme Court directed the central government and states to identify stranded migrant workers and take steps to facilitate their return by train/bus and complete the transportation process within a period of 15 days from June 9, 2020. The bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan also called for the counselling of migrant workers and helping them find avenues of employment amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Indian Railways has already received 171 such requests from the states. Ten trains were scheduled to leave for West Bengal today and one train each will leave for Bihar, Nagaland and Odisha. 10 of these 13 trains are leaving from Kerala, while two are originating from Tamil Nadu and one from Karnataka. Home Minister Amit Shah confirmed yesterday that UP has received 1700 trains and Bihar has received 1500 of them.

A majority of the Shramik Special trains originate from south India. 66 of these trains originate in Kerala. 26 of them begin their journey from Tamil Nadu and 18 of them from Karnataka. The Indian Railways has, so far, fully met the demand for these trains from the various state governments, in its commitment to provide a safe and comfortable mode of transport to stranded migrant labourers.

The Indian Railways had earlier issued a number of guidelines for Shramik Special to ensure the safe passage of migrant workers. These guidelines make it mandatory for passengers to wear face masks. The originating state is required to designate security personnel at the railway station to ensure that only authorised passengers receive tickets.

The state governments have also been asked to arrange for drinking water and food packets for passengers. Social distancing and safety measures are required to be observed in the trains as well as the stations. For train journeys spanning over 12 hours, the Indian Railways provides a meal. The state governments have to arrange for the screening and quarantine of passengers at arrival destinations.

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