Bengaluru, May 07, 2020: The Karnataka government will restart train services to transport migrant workers back to their home states, confirmed top sources in the state administration. The move comes two days after Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa unilaterally stopped train services attracting widespread criticism for creating a ‘hostage’ situation for migrant labourers.
Sources confirmed to TNM that train services will resume from Friday. An IAS officer said that at least three trains will run on Friday. Railway officials remained tight lipped about the matter and said that only state government nodal officers are authorised to speak on the matter.
The IAS officer also confirmed that only the Bihar government has accepted the proposal to ferry migrant workers and other states like West Bengal, Tripura, Jharkahd, Uttar Pradesh are yet to respond. The officer added that the government is trying to avoid hiccups unlike the last time and ensure that a more foolproof system is in place.
Manjunath Prasad, Principal Secretary at Revenue Department who is the nodal officer for making arrangements for interstate travel could not be reached for a comment.
The train service is also likely to be free for migrant workers. However, a definite decision is awaited. Earlier, a controversy erupted after migrant workers were asked to pay higher than normal prices for the special trains
The Karnataka government had facilitated eight special trains on May 3 and 4 with around 1200 migrant workers aboard each train. However, this was stopped from May 5.
Yediyurappa had on May 5 appealed to migrant workers to not leave for their hometowns and instead assured them work. "I appeal to labourers with folded hands don’t pay heed to any rumors, it is the responsibility of the government to see to it that you get work at the place you were working... don’t take hasty decisions of going to your natives. Stay here and work, as in the past," Yediyurappa said.
Following this, labour unions and activists lashed out at the government accusing it of not taking labourers into confidence and instead using them to kickstart the economy. Organizations like the All India Central Council of Trade Unions, IIM-Bangalore faculty and various other groups, individuals had written to the Chief Minister to run free trains. The matter was also mentioned before the High Court.
TNM had earlier reported how many of the workers were registered in the government’s Seva Sindhu portal but only a few could get on the trains.
Many of these workers were living in deplorable conditions during lockdown and were forced to starve without government aid and lack of pay from their employers.
In the last couple of days, there have been instances of minor violence as well including an incident of a police inspector getting injured.
Courtesy:The News Minutes