In a major relief to thousands of migrant workers stranded in Karnataka, the state government on Sunday announced that migrant labourers returning home could travel on state-run buses for free for the next three days, that is till Tuesday, May 5.
From Sunday, migrant workers can take Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation(KSRTC) buses from Bengaluru or district capitals to their native places for free, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said.
"Workers and poor daily wage workers have an opportunity to travel for free in KSRTC buses from Sunday to Tuesday. These KSRTC buses can be taken from Bengaluru or the district capitals to their native places and are free for everyone. Please wear masks. Maintain social distance. Please make use of this facility," Yediyurappa tweeted on Sunday morning.
The move comes amid severe criticism from opposition parties as the government had earlier said that migrants will have to pay fare while travelling by KSRTC buses. The exorbitant fares were also double or triple the rates for a single ticket. In addition, KSRTC had said that they would only run buses if there were over 30 passengers on one route.
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) leader DK Shivakumar came forward in the support of the migrants.
"The government can afford flights but cannot afford to send back the poor Karnataka people to their families," Shivakumar was quoted by The News Minute.
The KPCC leader also gave a cheque of ₹1 crore to KSRTC on behalf of KPCC to help transport the migrant labourers.
"Giving ₹1 crore cheque to KSRTC from the KPCC for ensuring Free Transport to our working-class & labour people who are suffering to reach home because of the rates being charged by the Karnataka Govt. Govt should let us know if they need more, the KPCC will fulfil that as well," Shivakumar wrote on Facebook, along with a video message.