The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday said that Indian Railways will pay 85 per cent train fares of migrant workers and the remaining 15 per cent will be paid by the state government. This clarification came after the centre received massive flak from the Congress party and other opposition leaders for charging migrant labourers exorbitantly amid the nationwide lockdown.
BJP clarified that for each 'Shramik Express' (special trains for migrants) nearly 1,200 tickets to the destination were given by the railways to the concerned state government.
Rahul Gandhi ji,— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) May 4, 2020
I have attached guidelines of MHA which clearly states that "No tickets to be sold at any station"
Railways has subsidised 85% & State govt to pay 15%
The State govt can pay for the tickets(Madhya Pradesh's BJP govt is paying)
Ask Cong state govts to follow suit https://t.co/Hc9pQzy8kQ pic.twitter.com/2RIAMyQyjs
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday lashed out at the Railway Ministry for charging money from poor migrant labourers who have been stranded across parts of the country and are desperate to go back to their homes.
"On the one hand, the railways charging tickets from migrants workers in various states, on the other hand, the Ministry of Railways is donating ₹151 crore in PM-CARES Fund. Solve this puzzle!" Gandhi said.
BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy also condemned the government's move of not subsidising train fares of migrant workers. He wrote: "How moronic of the Government of India to charge steep rail fares from the half-starved migrant labourers! Indians stranded abroad were brought back free by Air India. If Railways refuse to budge then why not make PM CARES pay instead?"
How moronic of the Government of India to charge steep rail fares from the half starved migrant labourers! Indians stranded abroad were brought back free by Air India. If Railways refuse to budge then why not make PM CARES pay instead?— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) May 4, 2020
He later confirmed that migrant workers returning home will not have to pay any money from now onwards after he had a conversation with Railways Minister Piyush Goyal. "Talked to Piyush Goel. Govt will pay 85 per cent and State Govt 15 per cent. Migrant labour will go free. Ministry will clarify with an official statement".
On May 2, the Ministry of Railways laid out a plan on sale of train tickets as per which states were asked to charge migrants for their tickets.
"Railways will print tickets to the specified destination, as per the number of passengers indicated by originating state and hand them over to local state government authority. Thereafter, the local state government will hand over the tickets to the passengers and collect the ticket fare. The state government will hand over the total amount to Railways," the ministry said in a release.
Meanwhile, attacking the centre, Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced that the party's state units will bear the cost of rail travel of migrant workers and labourers stranded in different states.
"This would be the Congress' humble contribution in standing shoulder to shoulder with these workers, who are the backbone of the country's economy," the party president said.
She also blamed the centre and the Railways of completely neglecting the demands made by Congress for ensuring the safety and free travel of migrant workers to their homes.
The Ministry of Railways launched special trains, under the name 'Shramik Express', across various destinations in the country for the movement of migrant labourers during the lockdown.