3 special trains with migrant workers chug from Bengaluru

Bengaluru (IANS) Three special trains left Bengaluru on Sunday with hundreds of migrant workers to Bhubaneswar in Odisha, to Danapur near Patna in Bihar and Hatia near Ranchi in Jharkhand nearly 40 days after they were stranded in this tech city since the lockdown on March 25.

"The first shramik special left Chikbanavara station in the eastern suburb at 9.26 a.m. with 1,190 migrants to Bhubaneswar, second from Malur in the eastern outskirts at 2.35 p.m. for Danapur with 1,200 migrants and third, also from Malur, to Hatia at 5.25 p.m. with 1,200 migrants," Bengaluru divisional manager A.K. Verma told IANS here.

The Karnataka government arranged special state-run buses to transport the workers to stations quietly under tight security from various relief camps across the city where they were staying over a month.

"All the migrants were checked by the state government and issued medical certificate. Our medical team also screened them again at the stations to check if anyone was having high temperature," said Verma.

"Care was taken to ensure physical/social distancing and wearing masks throughout the journey was made mandatory," asserted Verma, adding no one was found with high body temperature.

In compliance with the Union Home Ministry's guidelines, each train has 24 coaches, including 18 sleeper class, 4 general and 2 SLR (seating-cum-luggage). "Only 54 passengers were allowed to travel in each coach to maintain physical distancing and hygiene," said Vema.

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One team of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) is escorting the trains to their destinations. Names, cell number and other details of passengers were collected coach-wise earlier in the day," Verma said.

"We are digitising coach-wise and train-wise data for future need of contact tracing if any," said Verma.

The Azim Premji Foundation, a non-government organisation (NGO) of the software major Wipro czar, provided lunch, biscuits, water bottles and fruits to the migrants, while the railways will serve them food en-route through the state-run IRCTC.

State officials, railway staff, healthcare professionals and the police gave a warm send off to the migrants, majority of them in 20-40 years of age, by clapping, waving and cheering them, as they seemed relieved to head home after a long time.

"The two small stations away from the city were chosen to avoid rush of migrants and the general public, as those who boarded the special trains were screened by the state government as fit to travel," asserted Verma.

The stations and departure timings of the three special trains were also kept confidential to avoid media attention. "Security was tightened along the route to the stations, with city police and the RPF men positioned at key junctions, as the migrants were ferried from different camps in the state-run buses under escort," another official said.

The state government and the South Western Railways (SWR) have decided to run two more trains to Bhubaneswar and Danapur on Monday.

"We will run as many special trains as required to send the migrants to their native places on the advise of the state government, which has to screen them and pay for their tickets after collecting the fare from them," said Verma.

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