Migrant workers walk to board a special train to return to Agra, during a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, at a railway station in Ahmedabad
The Indian Railways
will bear 85 per cent of the train fare of migrant workers
and the rest will be paid by their states, said the government on Monday after a controversy over people stranded in the lockdown being asked to pay for being taken home.
Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, gave a clarification after the Congress party
offered to pay for the train tickets of migrant workers.
"We have given the permission to run special trains on states' request. We are dividing the cost in 85-15 per cent (railway: states) as per the norms. We never asked states to charge money from the stranded labourers," said Agarwal at a media briefing in Delhi.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi
asked her party’s state units to bear the cost of rail travel for migrant labourers. "Even today, lakhs of workers and migrant labourers are languishing in different parts of the country and wish to return to their homes and families but there is neither adequate money nor provision for free transport. What is particularly disturbing is that the Central Government and the Rail Ministry are charging them for train tickets in this hour of crisis," she said.
Following the Congress decision, Rajya Sabha member and the BJP leader Subramanian Swamy
tweeted that he had a word with the office of the Railways minister Piyush Goyal
and the central government will pay 85 per cent of the migrant fare and the remaining 15 per cent state governments will bear. "Migrant labour will go free. Ministry will clarify with an official statement," he said.