Believed to be a pilot operation for the upcoming movement of migrant workers engaging the railways across the country, the decision to run a special train from Telangana to Jharkhand was taken at the prime minister's level, in consultation with the state government, according to South Central Railway sources.
Union Minister of State for Home, G Kishan Reddy, who hails from Hyderabad, in fact, made a statement just a few days ago that the Centre was considering running special trains
to send migrant workers to their respective home states. Telangana minister Srinivas Yadav, who has been overseeing the issue of these migrant workers amid unrest, said yesterday that only the railways could handle the long haul journey of these north-bound labourers.
Later in the night, at about 12 pm,, state government officials brought the Jharkhand-bound workers in 66 buses to Lingampally railway station and conducted a drill on maintaining social distancing and other precautions while travelling in the train for the next four hours, the sources said. The railway officials put 54 people in each coach with a capacity of 72 berths by leaving out the middle berth in order to maintain social distancing between passengers.
While railway authorities have made lunch and dinner arrangements for the passengers during the journey, the state authorities gave break-fast parcels and water to them at the starting point. Besides overseeing these initial arrangements, the state government is also paying for their trip. "The state government is paying the entire cost of the special train, including the cost of food being given to these workers during their journey," a senior railway official said.
While this is the first point-to-point passenger train operated for migrant laborers after the lockdown
in the country, the South Central Railways have been particularly busy in transporting food grains in a big way from Telangana.
Telangana is home to an estimated 1.5-1.8 million migrant workers hailing from northern and eastern parts of the country, including states like Madhya Pradesh. These workers are engaged in labour intensive sectors like construction. Many of them were left stranded at the state border while trying to reach their home states by roads, while some others stayed put at the work sites. Earlier, chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao issued instructions to take care of the food and other basic requirements of migrant workers at special labour camps in the city and other parts of the state.