Special train takes migrant workers home; two services from Kerala on Saturday
Aluva: Giving relief to thousands of migrant workers who got stranded in Kerala amid the lockdown, the first non-stop train to Bhubaneswar left Aluva station on Friday evening. The train departed from the station around 10 pm.
A total of 1140 migrant workers set off to Odisha in the special train. Two special trains will take migrant workers to their home state from Ernakulam on Saturday.
“On Saturday, one train from Ernakulam south railway station will take the workers to Bhubaneswar and another one will set off to Patna from Aluva,” said minister VS Sunil Kumar to Mathrubhumi News.
The highest number of migrant workers have left from Perumbavoor to Bhubaneswar. Officials confirmed that medical check-up was carried out on all workers and alerted on the guidelines amid the coronavirus outbreak. Following these procedures, they were taken on 40 buses by maintaining distance to Aluva railway station. Sufficient food and drinking water for the workers were also provided inside the train.
The train which left Aluva on Friday will only stop at Bhubaneswar.
Talking to Mathrubhumi News, minister VS Sunil Kumar stated that the government holds the details of all migrant workers who wish to return to their state.
“Those who want to leave on Saturday will be taken to the railway station before the train departs. Adequate system for this purpose has been made,” added the minister. The minister noted that officials are working for this mission with dedication.
“The government has taken action to evacuate Keralites stranded in other states. Action will be taken to bring them after holding talks with other states,” informed the minister.
Aluva station witness a special moment
The train was scheduled to leave at 6 p.m but owing to delay in the registration process, it was delayed by a couple of hours or more.
"I have been here for the past eight years, but now we are all returning to our home-town. Along with me is my full family of two kids and my wife... We are scared of coronavirus. We are thankful to all who have made this happen," said an Oriya man waiting in the queue.
"We never thought our return would happen so quickly. We are happy to go back," said another youth.
When, as the news surfaced about the train service resuming on Friday morning, the Aluva station was besieged by migrant labourers enquiring about trains' schedule. All of them were told politely that everybody would be taken on board and that none should create a scene.
At Perambavoor, which has the highest number of migrant labourers, the health and police authorities had opened four registrations counters and those wanting to return stood in a queue for registration.
"There are some more seats to be filled, but the counter will close soon and then those who have been given a token to travel will be asked to board a state-owned bus which will drop them at the Aluva railway station," said a police officer overseeing the registration.
"Things then moved very fast. Those who wanted to return were identified. There is a protocol in place for the migrant labourers who wish to return. All will be checked for their health condition and if things are fine, they will be given the green signal. A dozen medical teams are examining all those wanting to return," said Sunilkumar.
"Each coach will accommodate 60 passengers in order to maintain social distancing. Food and water for the journey will be provided," said Sunilkumar.
Early in the day, State Home Secretary Biswas Mehta told media about the "rail operation."
According to the state Labour Department, there are 20,826 camps across the state where 3,61,190 migrant labourers are sheltered.
"Partnering states and Kerala have to work in tandem as those states have to arrange for quarantine. As and when states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam and Bihar agree, we will be sending more people," said Mehta.
He requested all the migrant workers to cooperate with the district authorities.
"My appeal to all those wishing to return is to listen to the district authorities. There should not be any problems. Everyone who wishes to return will be taken. Since there is a limit of 1,200 passengers in one train, all have to be patient. We expect around three lakh people to return from here," said Mehta.
Trains will also depart from big cities like Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.
Ernakulam district, being the commercial capital of the state, has the highest number of migrant labourers.
The police will be transporting labourers from the various camps in the city to these stations.
(With added inputs from IANS)