Ministry of Railways planned to run 125 Shramik Special trains on 25 May, carrying migrant labourers, students and tourists stranded in Maharashtra to their home states.
Hours before these trains were to depart, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray claimed that the Railways was not doing enough to fulfil the state’s demand of special trains.
On the afternoon of 24 May, as Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray took to Facebook to address the people, he tried to put blame on the Railways for the mess.
Minister Piyush Goyal lashed out at the state government for providing a list of only 46 trains on Monday despite making preparations for 125 trains.
“Where is the list for 125 trains from Maharashtra? As of 2 am, received list of only 46 trains of which five are to West Bengal and Odisha which cannot operate due to cyclone Amphan. We are notifying only 41 trains for today despite being prepared for 125!!!” – Goyal tweeted.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday had already engaged in a war of words over the running of Shramik Special trains. In a televised speech, Uddhav had claimed that while his government has been seeking 80 trains daily to send migrants back to their respective states, the Centre is sending only 30 to 40 trains daily. He added that his government has so far sent back 7 lakh migrants to their respective states in 481 trains, with the the state bearing 100 per cent of the costs — spending Rs 85 crore.
Soon after, Goyal tweeted saying that the Railways would operate 125 Shramik special trains for Maharashtra on Monday and asked Uddhav to share a list of migrants who would board these trains, along with their details, medical certificates and their originating and destination stations, within an hour with the Central Railway (CR).
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut sprang to the CM’s defence and took on Goyal.
“Maharashtra government has submitted a list to the rail authorities. There is only one request to Piyush Goyalji that the trains should reach their destinations. The train going to Gorakhpur should not end up in Odisha,” Raut said.
He took a potshot at Goyal and was referring to last week’s incident where hundreds of migrant labourers travelling to their native Uttar Pradesh were instead taken to Rourkela in Odisha. Later, the rail authorities claimed that it was a planned diversion due to congestion on some routes.
Raut replied to Goyal via a tweet. “Piyushji, what list was sought for Nagpur-Udhampur train that left on 14 May. Please share what efforts have been made to arrange trains first and then to gather passengers? Now, which list are you seeking? Don’t forget that you represent Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha.”
Meanwhile, the Central Railways, also came out with a press release stating that it had to cancel 65 trains due to lack of preparations on part of the Mahahrashtra government. “For the last two hours, rail authroties have been waiting for the list of passengers with details of their destination to plan the trains. Planning special trains is an elaborate process, which requires time and unless lists are given in time, Maharashtra government will make it impossible for Railways to run the train,” Goyal added.