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Covid-19 impact: Maharashtra sends back 11.86 lakh migrant workers

Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi have traditionally been employing the maximum number of migrant workers in the country. (PTI)Premium
Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi have traditionally been employing the maximum number of migrant workers in the country. (PTI)

  • Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi have traditionally been employing the maximum number of migrant workers in the country
  • Maharashtra is the worst affected state in India as nearly 371 out of every 1000 confirmed covid-19 cases in the country emerged from the state

MUMBAI : With the number of covid-19 cases steadily rising in the state, Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, on Monday, said that since 1 May, at least 822 Shramik special trains from Maharashtra have taken 11.86 lakh migrant workers back to their home states and the state government has made special arrangements to facilitate the travel of stranded migrant labourers.

Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi have traditionally been employing the maximum number of migrant workers in the country.

Deshmukh said that among the 822 trains, most have been sent to Uttar Pradesh (450) followed by Bihar (177), West Bengal (47), Madhya Pradesh (34), Jharkhand (32), Rajasathan (20), Odisha (17), Karnataka (6), and Chhatisgarh (6) among other states.

These special Shramik trains are being deployed from almost all major railway stations across Maharashtra. These include Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (136), Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (154), Panvel (45), Bhiwandi (11), Borivali (71), Kalyan (14), Thane (37), Bandra Terminus (64), Pune (78), Kolhapur (25), Satara (14), Aurangabad (12) and Nagpur (14) among others.

Deployment of Shramik trains for ferrying lakhs of migrant workers has been a controversial issue between Maharashtra and the central government. The state government claims that the Centre has not been providing enough trains as demanded by the state for migrant laborers and even when trains are being provided they are either reaching wrong stations or reaching destinations too late. On the other hand, the central government claims that Maharashtra government has been lax in providing the details of passengers which has been resulting in deployment of less trains and making many Shramik trains returning empty.

A report by The Indian Express on Sunday showed that of the 3,740 Shramik trains that ran since 1 May, about 40% were recorded as late.

The Railways will continue to provide states “as many (trains) as they want," to transport passengers returning home amid the lockdown but over 250 trains have been “wasted" because states that requested for them could not bring in passengers, said the report , quoting Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.

“Sad part is after notifying trains, more than 250 trains they could not use…Maharashtra…it alone could not use more than 100 trains as they could not bring passengers. We readied 145 trains but state (Maharashtra) could not use it. Look at the wastage. Those trains could have been used by migrants elsewhere. Once they brought 20,000 people to Bandra. We said don’t worry, we will put (a) train in Bandra and will move everybody. No passenger came as per the list. And UP and Bihar were quite unhappy," Goyal said in the report.

The face-off between Maharashtra and the centre over Shramik trains has been intensifying as the number of covid-19 cases has been rising the most in Maharashtra, which has not only been compelling the state government to extend the lockdown but also forcing lakhs of migrant workers to leave the state in a haste due to loss of employment and fear of contracting the virus.

The state government is running 810 relief camps where 37,994 migrant labourers have been given refuge with food and necessities. These numbers have come down drastically over the past one month since most of the migrant laborers in the state have already left for their villages.

With 2,487 new cases, Maharashtra’s covid-19 tally reached 67,655 confirmed cases on Sunday. Of these, 29,329 had fully recovered, while 2,286 died due to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

Presently, Maharashtra is the worst affected state in India as nearly 371 out of every 1000 confirmed covid-19 cases in the country emerged from the state.

The recovery rate in the state stood at 43.35%, against the national average of 47.7%, while the case fatality rate was 3.37% in the state, compared to the national average of 2.8%.

While managing the public in the state’s infected spots during the lockdown, as many as 2,584 police personnel have tested positive for Covid-19. Of these 1,043 have recovered and 27 have succumbed. Over the last 24 hours itself, at least 93 police personnel have been tested covid-19 positive in the state.

Of the total confirmed cases in the state, Mumbai municipal corporation area that comprised about 60% of confirmed cases, has become the epicentre of the pandemic in India.

As of Saturday, the financial capital of the country reported 39,686 confirmed cases, of which 21,610 were active cases, while 1,279 people had lost their lives to the deadly virus.

In the wake of the ongoing covid-19 crisis, in an online public address on Sunday evening, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that his government was working towards solving the shortage of hospital beds in the state. “We have 25,000 beds with oxygen facility. There were 250 ICU beds before, now we have 8500," he said.

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