First special train to Bihar carrying nearly 1,200 migrant labourers arrives at Patna (Photo Credit: File Photo)
The first "Shramik Special" train to Bihar, carrying 1,187 stranded migrant labourers, reached the Danapur railway station here from Rajasthan's Jaipur on Saturday afternoon after a 16-hour journey. The 24-coach train left Jaipur at 10 pm on Friday and reached the Danapur railway station around 2 pm, Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO), East Central Railway, Hajipur, Rajesh Kumar told PTI.
The train ran point-to-point non-stop, he said. A medical screening of the passengers was carried out on arrival at the station by 20 medical teams. "After the medical examination, they will be served food and sent to their respective districts by buses," Patna Divisional Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Agarwal told PTI.
Around 100 buses have been stationed at the Danapur railway station to send these people to their home districts, he said. The seating arrangement in these buses has been made keeping in mind social-distancing norms. The buses will ply with a half of their seating capacity, Agarwal added.
This is the first run of a special train to Bihar to bring back migrants stranded during the nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus spread. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi had recently estimated the count of migrants from Bihar held up during the lockdown in different parts of the country at around 27 lakh.
These passengers will be quarantined for 21 days at their respective block-level quarantine centres, Agarwal said while making it clear that the train carried only migrant labourers who were working in Rajasthan. Patna District Magistrate Kumar Ravi, Senior Superintendent of Police Upendra Sharma and a host of other senior district administration officials were present at the Danapur railway station, on the outskirts of the state capital, to keep a close tab on the operation.
Disinfectants were sprayed in and around the railway station before the arrival of the train, Agarwal said. The migrant workers, who looked relaxed and happy as the train chugged into the station, expressed joy on coming home. After deboarding the train, the passengers, including a few women and children, were taken to the Danapur railway school for medical screening, where they were given forms to fill up with their names, mobile phone numbers, addresses, destination places, whether suffering from cough, cold, fever etc.
Circles were drawn to maintain a fair distance between two persons right from the platform to the school premises according to social-distancing norms. All the passengers were given hand sanitiser at the entrance of the school.
This is the first run of a special train to Bihar after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) allowed the states to ferry migrants back home in buses. 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, citing logistical problems in transporting them by roads.
Considering the requests, the Centre on Labour Day (May 1) decided to run "Shramik Special" trains to different destinations. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had thanked the Centre for running special trains for transporting people stranded in different states due to the lockdown to their homes.
Notably, Kumar, who held a marathon meeting here on Friday that lasted for close to six hours, had asked officials to make arrangements for the mandatory 21-day quarantine, medical tests and treatment and, subsequently, economic rehabilitation in view of the massive influx of migrant workers expected in the state in the near future.
Scores of migrants, students and pilgrims seem poised to return home in droves on board special trains run by the Centre, besides other modes of transport that may be arranged upon a mutual agreement between the states concerned, Kumar said.