Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has launched free bus services up to the borders of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat for migrant labourers amidst the coronavirus-induced lockdown, a senior state transport official said on Monday.
The decision was taken in view of the migrant labourers risking their lives by setting out on journey on foot on highways and even along railway tracks.
The official said the accident in Aurangabad district on Friday in which 16 migrant labourers from Madhya Pradesh were run over by a goods train was one of the main triggers behind the state government's decision.
He said the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses will conduct more than 300 trips to the borders of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in the next two days, as they will run half of their normal capacity to maintain social distancing among passengers.
"The state government has observed that migrant labourers are in no mood to stay back despite several appeals made by the state government. After the death of 16 migrant labourers in Aurangabad, the government state decided to run special buses for migrant labourers," he said.
The buses originating from suburban Borivali in Mumbai will run up to Gujarat border and from Nashik and Dhule in north Maharashtra up to the border of Madhya Pradesh, the official said.
He said the state government would bear the bus travel fare of migrant labourers.
He said the government's priority is to ensure that migrants do not risk their lives by walking on roads and highways by undertaking an arduous journey for home.
Notably, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government on Sunday decided to bear the train travel expenses of those migrant labourers without money but wished to return to their home states.