Over 66 lakh Indians made intra-state travels from April 30 to May 12, reflecting the large number of people reaching their homes during the period, government sources said on Friday. The details emerged in the midst of heart-rending stories of thousands of migrant labourers struggling to return home from their places of work due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The sources said a total of 27.15 lakh Indians moved from one state to another between April 30 and May 6, while the number for the period from May 7-12 was 39.71 lakh. The Union government as well as states made arrangements to transport lakhs of migrant workers to their home states after the lockdown shone the spotlight on their miseries to return home.
The government is providing transportation by road and railways to the people, the sources said. They asserted that the numbers show that a large number has moved to their destinations. Increasing transportation and addition of air services from May 25 will further improve mobility, the sources said.
People should not create panic and are advised to plan their movements for their destinations accordingly, the sources said. The advice to people to not panic comes amid easing of restrictions with limited rail and air travel set to resume. The Railways on Wednesday issued a list of 100 pairs of trains that it will operate from June 1, putting in operation popular trains such as Durontos, Sampark Krantis, Jan Shatabdis and Poorva Express.
This is the second slew of special passenger services that marked the Railways graded restoration of its trains which were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Railways has ferried over 31 lakh migrant workers on board 2,317 Shramik Special trains since May 1, almost seven lakh more than the initial projection of 24 lakh, according to official data. Also, after a two-month hiatus, one-third of the scheduled domestic flights would be flying from Monday after the airlines adhere to the government-prescribed limits on airfares categorised in seven bands based on flight duration.
The lockdown was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 for 21 days. It was then extended till May 3 and again till May 17. The lockdown has now been extended till May 31. Hundreds of thousands of migrant labourers have been struggling to get home, with fortunate ones managing a seat in a bus or train, while many others have been just walking home, traveling hundreds of kilometers.