Ajit Pawar seeks special trains for migrants after end of lockdown

Pawar said an episode similar to the one that happened on April 14, where migrants crowded at Bandra, should not happen again

Maharshtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the migrant workers stranded in different parts of Maharashtra may step out in big numbers to return to their states when the train services resume after the lockdown is lifted. File photo: PTI

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar urged Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to allow the railway ministry to run special train services from Mumbai and Pune to ferry migrant workers stuck in Maharashtra to their native states after the lockdown ends on May 3.

According to an official statement, in a letter to Goyal, Pawar said that the migrant workers, stranded in different parts of Maharashtra, may step out in big numbers to return to their states when the train services resume after the lockdown is lifted. “This can lead to law and order problem (with workers coming out in big numbers),” he added.

To avoid this, the Railway Ministry should run special trains, he said.

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The state Finance Minister said that the state government has arranged accommodation and food for the migrant workers, who hail from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states. He said six-and-half lakh workers are currently staying across the shelters provided by the state government.

Pawar also referred to the scores of migrant workers gathering outside Bandra Railway Station on April 14 — when the nationwide lockdown was to end, but was extended till May 3 — and said the incident marked how desperate the labourers were to return to their home states.

“The law and order problem can be avoided and workers can return to their respective home states safely if the Railway Ministry runs special trains for them after the lockdown period is over,” the statement quoted Pawar as saying in the letter.

Earlier, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday (April 19) said his government would ensure that migrant labourers in the state are sent home once the lockdown is lifted.

“I give you my word that the Maharashtra government will take you to your homes, the day this crisis ends. I believe that when you go back to your homes, you should go back happily and not out of fear,” Hindustan Times quoted Thackeray as saying.

(With inputs from agencies)

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