Thousands of migrant labourers had gathered in various parts of the city on Tuesday, queuing up to board the buses arranged by local police authorities, while completely tossing out the norms of social distancing, to finally be able to get into the Shramik Special trains to their hometowns in the northern states amid the COVID-19 lockdown, arranged by the Central government. These migrants had gathered at Dharavi, Sion, Vasai, Kurla and Bhayandar to board the trains bound to go to their hometown.
On Tuesday, over 18,000 migrant labourers were sent to their hometowns at Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal from Dharavi, the Coronavirus hotspot of Mumbai, and were asked to gather near various pick up points, from where they would be taken to the respective railway stations. More than expected crowd had gathered near Dharavi T-junction, 90-feet road and Sion railway station, which led to a manic situation, said police.
Acting on the migrants' applications, trains are assigned to them and they are called at the pick up points accordingly. A few migrants, however, turn up unannounced and try to board the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) bound buses and leave the city in the Shramik Special trains, as a result of being restless.
An official said, "Of 7 lakh migrants, over 1 lakh migrants have been officially sent to their hometown after completing the procedure, while another 1.5 lakh have left the area through illegal transport or on foot. On Tuesday, 18,000 were sent whose names were called out on the list, while the others were sent home.
A similar plight was witnessed at Bhayandar, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus at Kurla and Vasai, where thousands of migrants had gathered. Over 8,000 labourers had gathered at Suncity Ground in Vasai in Palghar district, to board seven trains likely to leave from Vasai railway station which includes four to Jaunpur, two to Bhadohi and one to Gorakhpur.
Meanwhile, the railway authorities blamed the shortcomings of the state government, who failed to ply the migrant labourers to the railway stations and accused them of not providing details of the passengers, as a result of which many Shramik Special trains had to wait for the passengers. The Central Railways (CR) had offered 145 Shramik Special trains for evacuation of migrants from Maharashtra but were able to operate only 27 trains till 6pm, said Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways.
"On request of Maharashtra Govt, we arranged 145 Shramik Special Trains. These trains were ready since morning. I request the Maharashtra Government to fully cooperate in ensuring that the distressed migrants are able to reach their homes and bring passengers to stations in time, and not cause further delays. It will affect the entire network and planning," Goyal said in a tweet.