Anil Deshmukh counters FM’s claim on Centre bearing 85% Shramik Train cost
Bhushan Koyande

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has slammed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for her statement that the Centre bore 85 per cent cost of Shramik Trains to transport migrants to their home states. On its part, the state government shares 15 per cent of the cost.

Deshmukh told the Free Press Journal, “I wondered, how the FM can claim that the Centre has spent 85 per cent of the cost involved in running the Shramik Trains to shift migrants. This is contrary to the ground situation. Initially, migrant workers told us that they paid the full fare to get the ticket. The Maharashtra government has subsequently come forward and spent Rs 55 crore so far from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. It has borne the entire cost of travel of more than 2.45 lakh migrants in about 191 Shramik Trains.’’ He said the government will shell out more money to send migrant workers from Shramik Trains to their respective home states.

Deshmukh said the state needs 800 to 1000 trains, though at present some 50 Shramik Trains daily leave. “I must tell you that till states send non objection to the Maharashtra government, trains cannot leave from here. The state government will continue to speak with the Indian Railways to organise more and more trains for which it will bear the cost,’’ he noted.

Furthermore, Deshmukh informed that the Maharashtra government has also transported more than 1.41 stranded workers in 11,379 buses of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) up to the borders of their respective states.

On the state and central government’s decision to extend the lockdown up to May 31, Deshmukh urged the people to strictly observe the guidelines in order to curb the spread of the virus.

On the deployment of 20 companies comprising 2,000 personnel of the Central Armed Reserve Forces, Deshmukh said, so far, nine have been deployed, while 11 will arrive by Monday or early Tuesday. “Nine companies were deployed in Mumbai, Pune, Malegaon, Aurangabad and Amravati. This will give some rest to the police force which is on the roads for more than 50 days to tackle the COVID-19 crisis. After the 11 companies arrive, they will be sent to various other places. This was necessitated in view of ensuing Ramzan Eid, the annual Ashadi Palkhi Procession from Dehu to Pandharpur and Ganeshotsav,’’ he noted.

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