The Home Ministry on Monday asked the Railways to start running at least 100 special trains per day for the next few weeks to ensure the return of migrant workers to their native places, an official said. Addressing a press conference, Home Ministry Joint Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava said the ministry held a meeting with the nodal officers of Railways and State Governments on Monday.
"It was emphasised that at least 100 trains should be run daily for the next few weeks to ensure return of migrant labourers," she said. Srivastava said the Home Ministry in a letter to the state government has urged to ensure that no migrant labourer should be allowed to travel by foot on the roads or railway tracks.
"If they are found travelling by foot on road or railway tracks adequate efforts should be made to arrange bus or train for them. Till the arrangement is made, the labourers should be taken to the nearest shelter home and sufficient arrangements for food, etc. be made for them," she said. Srivastava said so far 468 such special trains have been run in which a total of over five lakh people have travelled, with 101 trains running on Sunday alone.
The train services, which were completely stopped in the country in the wake of the COVID 19 outbreak, will resume in a phased manner from Tuesday with 15 special trains departing from the New Delhi station for different destinations, she said. The Home Ministry has issued an exhaustive standard operating procedure under the Disaster Management Act to avoid any spread of coronavirus during train travel, she said.
Only railway passengers with confirmed e-tickets will be allowed to enter a platform and they will be screened before boarding the train, she said. Only asymptomatic ones will be allowed to board the trains and the passengers will have to mandatorily wear face masks or face covers besides maintaining social distancing during the travel, she said.
The official said travel from home to the railway station and vice versa will be in conformity with the zone-wise travel restrictions placed in the country in the wake of the lockdown. "Upon reaching their destinations, passengers will have to follow health protocols of the state government," she said.
She said the Home Ministry has also written to the state governments asking them to ensure seamless travel of doctors, nurses, paramedics, sanitation workers and ambulances. On the mission to bring Indians stranded abroad, she said as on Sunday
23 flights have brought over 4,000 passengers into the country. Naval Ship INS Jalashwa has returned to Kochi with 698 passengers from the Maldives including 105 women and four children on Sunday while INS Magar has started from Male with 200 stranded passengers.