Home >politics >policy >Migrant-friendly trains to link hinterland to urban centres

New Delhi: In a move designed to facilitate the easy flow of migrant labour, the NDA government in its first rail budget on Tuesday announced more than a dozen trains that will connect small towns in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with bustling business centres such as Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

The decision to connect states with high migration rates to some of the country’s key business cities was evident in the rail budget when railway minister Sadananda Gowda announced 15 trains from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh out of a total 58 new train services.

According to the 2001 Census, more than 6 million people migrated out of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, mainly in search of work.

Of these 15 trains, five are connected to Delhi and two each to Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Some of the other states that have been connected to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are Rajasthan, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.

“It is a good move that connectivity to poorly accessed areas have been increased. Connecting such areas with more prominent and developing cities is in fact a reflection of the ways in which the passenger traffic is moving," said Ravi Srivastava, professor at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

“Improvement in connectivity helps in the movement of such population which travels from cities of states like Bihar to trade centres like Ahmedabad," added Srivastava, who has worked extensively on labour migration.

Some 2.24 million people migrated from Bihar while 3.81 million people left Uttar Pradesh and more than 70% of them headed for Maharashtra in search of work, according to the 2001 Census.

Experts said the railway minister has tried to select routes that are commercially viable while considering the requests of various members of Parliament and the railway ministry for new routes.

But political analysts said the decision to encourage free movement of migrant labour may have a dual impact.

“People of Punjab and Haryana where they need cheap labour to work, especially in their fields, will be happy with the decision of the government because now they will get a labour force that will be able to travel to these states more easily," said Badri Narayan, an Allahabad-based political analyst.

But in Maharashtra, the plan may not be supported by those political parties that have openly opposed north Indian migrants working or looking for jobs in Mumbai.

“This decision will have a dual impact in Maharashtra. Businessmen will be extremely pleased because they will get the work force and job-seekers will get work. But the local job seekers who lose out in the race will be annoyed," Narayan said.

At the same time, places such as Surat, Ahmedabad and Kanpur need a bigger work force, he added.

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