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Train Fee for Migrant Workers: Congress Offers to Fund Migrant Tickets; government says it is paying most of the bill | India News

NEW DELHI: The government clashed with Congress and other opposition parties over allegations that migrant workers were being asked to pay fees to travel to their home cities with the railroads, saying that neither the department nor the Center were collecting the ticket money of the passengers in the ‘Shramik Specials’.
The head of Congress, Sonia Gandhi, criticized the government on Monday morning for “charging” the fee to migrants and said that the main opposition party would pay the amounts of the fines, pointing to the workers as “nation builders ” Soon, congressional officials addressed state units and governments where the party is in office to coordinate fundraising efforts.
Feeling the political damage of the accusation that poor immigrants eager to return home were charged fees, the railroads and BJP countered Congress and other opposition parties, saying the Center was paying 85% of the cost of transportation while that states sending workers back carrying the rest. BJP members said that only states like Maharashtra, where Congress is a partner, refused to pay 15%.

Train Fee for Migrant Workers: Congress Offers to Fund Migrant Tickets; government says it is paying most of the bill | India News

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Railroads said it was charging a basic sleeping fee plus Rs.50 for costs that included sanitation and running trains with reduced passengers, even when members of Congress said that before, Indians abroad were flown home to government expense.
According to an internal evaluation carried out by the railways, the state carrier had received only Rs 3.5 crore for the sale of tickets for 34 trains that were in operation until Sunday, while the total cost was around Rs 24 crore .
Sonia accused the Center of ignoring the plight of migrant workers despite repeated reminders from the party. Weighing it, Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “Please solve this riddle: on the one hand, the railways are charging the fees of workers trapped in other states, while, on the other hand, the railway ministry is giving Rs 151 crore to the PM-Cares fund. ”
In a periodic briefing on the situation of the pandemic, the joint secretary of the health ministry, Luv Agrawal, said: “The operation of the train has allowed the transportation of a limited number of stranded workers for a very particular reason and this process has been started with state governments. ”
Officials of the Ministry of Railways said that 85% of subsidy or the participation of the railroads was reached, calculating the number of empty bunks to maintain social distance, taking empty buses from the destination stations “under lock and key” and meals and drinking water. They said the trains were likely to run even after the closure ended if migrants continued to search for passage home.
Sources said the ticket for passengers who boarded a special train from Ajmer (Rajasthan) to Dankuni (West Bengal) was paid for by the Dargah committee. “We received payment from the state authorities. We do not enter how and from where the state obtained the amount, “said an official.
However, official statements did not dampen the political fight on the issue with BJP alleging that one of the few states that did not bear the costs of the migrants who left their territory was Maharashtra, where Congress and its allies are in office. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said the state government was paying the charges to the railways. CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Madhya Pradesh also said that the fee was paid by the state. Sharing the order of the parliamentary government, BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said: “This is how state governments governed by Congress can pay 15% for migrant workers … instead of politicizing the issue.”
But not everyone bought the BJP arguments. Parties like RJD, Trinamool Congress, CPI and CPM criticized the Center and questioned why the PM-Cares Fund was not being used to transport workers home.
RJD’s Tejaswi Yadav said his group would pay the fee for 50 stranded migrant trains returning to Bihar. This, he said, was in addition to his offer of 2,000 buses made to the Nitish government previously.
While CPI said the government should make “significant use” of the PM-Cares Fund and pay the railways for bringing migrant workers home, CPM chief Sitaram Yechury said the government was “callous, cruel and criminal “for not extending assistance to migrants when they needed it the most. “As the name shows, the new fund is exclusively for those who Modi cares for. The poor and the vulnerable, the creators of value, clearly don’t care, “he said. CPM also referred to a May 2 order from the Ministry of Railways that governments must collect money from migrants and pay for railways.
Former TMC official and former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi said: “It is inhumane to charge a fee to poor migrant workers who have been waiting to get home and have no money. Why can’t the PM-Cares Fund be used to rescue them from their plight? ”
Derek O’Brien added: “This is a classic example of non-cooperative federalism. GOI has a simple theory; when things are good, the Center is credited, when things get tough, it passes the burden on the states.”
Previously, in an emotional video message, Sonia said: “When our government can recognize its responsibility by organizing free air travel for our stranded citizens abroad, when the government can spend almost Rs 100 million on transport and food, etc. For a single public program in Gujarat (Trump visit), when the railway ministry has the generosity to donate millions of rupees to the Prime Minister’s crown fund, why can’t these essential members of our nation’s fabric be given a fraction of the same courtesy?
She said “the builders of our nation” were expected to have the first claim on the piles of donations that will be used to provide free train travel.

Times of India