The first special train ferrying 1,200 stranded migrants from Telangana to Jharkhand will reach its destination Hatia at 11 pm on Friday, from where the state government will take them to their respective districts in sanitised buses, following COVID-19 protocols. The train starting from Lingampally in Telangana to Hatia is the first one run by the railways since its services were suspended due to the nationwide lockdown.
"The 24-coach train started at 4.50 am on Friday. A total of 1,200 migrants are on board," RPF DG Arun Kumar told PTI in Delhi. This is the first run of a special train after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) allowed the states to ferry migrants back home in buses on Friday. Many states, including Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Telangana, had requested for special trains to ferry migrant workers back home.
A senior official of the Ranchi Railway Division under the South Eastern Railway zone told PTI that the special train will reach Hatia, on the outskirts of Ranchi city, at 2300 hrs on Friday. A high-level meeting was held between the state officials and those from the railways for a proper coordination on the train''s arrival. Transport Secretary K Ravi Kumar, Ranchi Deputy Commissioner Rai Mahimapat Ray, Senior Superintendent of Police Anish Gupta, Traffic SP Ajit Peter Dungdung took part in the meeting with Ranchi Divisional Railway Manager Neeraj Ambast and other railway officials.
Requesting anonymity, the railway official said their task is to transport the passengers safely to Hatia station and then, it is the responsibility of the state government to take care of them. The official said migrants from across Jharkhand, including Ranchi, are travelling by the special train. After deboarding the passengers, the empty train will return once it is properly sanitised, he said, adding that all the coaches will be locked meticulously to avoid the entry of anybody.
Disinfectants were being sprayed in around the Hatia railway station before the arrival of the train, the official said. Earlier, a spokesperson of the South Central Railway zone, which is running the train, said all passengers underwent thermal screening at the boarding station, masks were mandatory and food was provided on board as the train will have no halts. For social-distancing measures, only 54 passengers are allowed per coach, which has a capacity of 72. In coupes, six passengers have been allowed, instead of eight, the spokesperson said.
The other five "Shramik Special" trains announced by the railways are -- Nasik to Lucknow (9:30 pm), Aluva to Bhubaneswar (6 pm), Nasik to Bhopal (8 pm), Jaipur to Patna (10 pm) and Kota to Hatia (9 pm). However, the national transporter later said the train from Nasik to Lucknow was rescheduled. Giving details of the arrangements for receiving the travelling migrants, official sources in Ranchi said the Jharkhand government has taken a decision that no relative should come to the Hatia station to receive their family members onboard the special train.
The government would take the passengers to their residents, an official release said soon after the meeting. Transport officials have been asked to prepare an estimate of the number of migrant workers set to leave for their respective districts and make buses available through coordination among the officials engaged for the purpose. The mobile phone numbers of the drivers and bus employees should be noted down and sent to the officials concerned, the release said.
The Ranchi deputy commissioner will personally monitor the entire arrangements and operation at Hatia. Amid social distancing and other security measures, those engaged in the job would announce from a public address system about the departure of buses to their destinations. At 8 pm, the train will reach Jharkhand''s Chakradharpur, where the passengers will be served packed dinner on the train and each migrant worker will be welcomed with a mask and a flower.
On arrival, thermal screening of the passengers will be conducted, along with videography of the entire process. In all, sixty 60 sanitised buses with 25-28 seats each are ready, ensuring physical-distancing measures in every vehicle. Upon arrival, each worker will again go through a proper medical screening and then, they will be stamped for home-quarantine or sent to institutional quarantine, if deemed necessary.
A team of over 200 members, including administrative officials, health workers and medical screening staff will be present at the Hatia station. A 200-member police team will also be present to ensure that all norms are followed at the station till the departure of the buses. Meanwhile, BJP MP V D Ram said around 250 passengers on the train are labourers from Palamau district, while 420 are from the neighbouring Garhwa district.