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Migrant transportation: Center should have devised a cost-sharing plan or taken over the entire bill – editorials

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Home / Editorials / Migrant transportation: The Center should have devised a cost-sharing plan or taken over the entire bill

Many have demanded that the Center bear the cost of the trip. The chief ministers of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have spoken out against the decision to further burden the states. But the Center has not made any announcements.

editorials
Updated: May 03, 2020 19:35 IST

Police personnel watch as a train carrying immigrants from Jaipur enters Danapur Station, Patna, May 2, 2020.
Police personnel watch a train carrying immigrants from Jaipur arrive at Danapur Station, Patna, May 2, 2020 (Santosh Kumar / HTPhoto)

As the national shutdown to combat the crisis caused by coronavirus disease (Covid-19) was extended for another two weeks on Friday, the Union government announced that Indian Railways (IR) will begin operating special trains to transport workers stranded from their host to home states. This has been the demand of migrant workers since the start of the blockade on March 24 because the closure of their workplaces has left them with no money to pay for housing and food. In the absence of transportation, many desperate migrant workers have been walking and cycling distances impossible for the safety of their hometown villages.

However, the decision to transport migrant workers is becoming a new critical point between the Center and states on who will bear the cost of transportation. On May 3, Indian Railways said it is the responsibility of state authorities to collect the fares for the tickets of stranded migrants and students who board special trains to return to their home cities and deliver the amount or pay the amount from their coffers. . The service provider is charging bed class fares and an additional Rs 50 for a point-to-point trip. However, there is little clarity on whether states need to book trains, as Jharkhand has, and pay in advance, or pay later. Left on their devices, different states are testing different payment mechanisms: either by raising money or by charging it to poor migrant workers. This is because states are already facing a major funding crisis due to high expenses incurred to face the pandemic and revenues have decreased. Many have demanded that the Center bear the cost of the trip. The chief ministers of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have spoken out against the decision to further burden the states. But, the Center has not made any announcements.

The controversy over payments could have been avoided if the Center and the two states (host and home) had formulated a cost-sharing plan. While all three parties have had sufficient time to do so since the closure was announced almost a month and a half ago, the Center should have taken the lead in formulating this critical cost-sharing plan to ensure that there is no controversy over what is Mainly humanitarian assistance to poor and desperate migrant workers. Better yet, you should take care of the entire bill.

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