New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday asked the Railway Ministry to operate special trains to ferry people stranded due to the nationwide lockdown to their native places.
In an order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs to all Chief Secretaries of states and Administrators of Union Territories (UTs), the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, referring to sub-clause under Clause of 17 of the consolidated guidelines, said, ‘Migrants workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at various places, is also allowed by special trains to be operated by the Ministry of Railway.”
The Railway Ministry will designate nodal officer(s) for coordination with states and UTs for their movement and Ministry will issue detailed guidelines for sale of tickets, and for social distancing and other safety measures to be observed at train stations, platforms and within in the trains” the MHA communication further said.
The Home Ministry letter also stated the rest of the conditions stipulated for movement of persons as per the sub- clauses of the revised and consolidated guidelines issued on April 15 will apply to such movements.
The Centre move comes in followed serious logistic challenges being posed in transporting over 15 lakh people, including migrant labourers, students and others via buses.
Earlier the day, a meeting held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had discussed the issue with the Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Railway Minister Piyush Goel to decide on running special trains and to broad plan for their operation.
Notably, several state governments, including Bihar, Punjab and Telangana, had asked the Centre to operate special trains as ‘bus journey’ as allowed by the Home Ministry, is time taking and hence is suitable only for shorter distance.
One-off special train with only general sleeper coaches from Lingampalli (Hyderabad) to Hatia in Jharkhand was chugged off at 0450 hrs on Friday on request of the Telangana Government as per the directions of Ministry of Railways.
All necessary precautions such prior screening of passengers, maintaining social distancing at station and in the train has been followed.
On April 29, the MHA had issued guidelines on inter-state transport of migrant workers and students. Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh governments have already started running buses from various states.