MISPLACED CLAIMS
How railways failed the citizens
- VIPIN PUBBY
How railways failed the citizens



The most enduring and tragic images of the current crisis caused by coronavirus pandemic would be migrants walking home for miles together or scrambling to get on Shramik trains which were also ill managed and in many cases added to the miseries of the migrants.

There are reports of such trains getting diverted leading to much longer journeys. Some such trains took more than five days to reach their destination instead of the normal two days. Because of sudden diversions the railways could not make provisions for food and water as vendors were not allowed on railway stations. There have also been reports of death of some migrants for various reasons while travelling in such trains.

Since the migration of workers started in late March after the announcement of lockdown when the government stopped all trains at a notice of four hours, there had been no word from the union railway ministry for more than a month. The union railways minister Piyush Goyal literally went underground and has only now come out in the public.

It was only after continued exposure of the plight of the migrants by media that government finally decided to run "shramik” special trains from May 1. Much time was lost in the confusion over modalities and the question of bearing expenditure. While the centre refused to bear the total cost of travel, certain state governments agreed to subsidise the tickets while states like Bihar said they would compensate the migrants after a month of their arrival.

Then there was confusion over the operations of such trains. Some state governments like Maharashtra and Punjab claimed that the receiving states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were not granting permissions for the entry of such trains. 
Also read some earlier write-ups by VIPIN PUBBY:
 
The opposition Congress sought to politicise the issue and offered to fund the running of such trains. No figures are available on whether the party actually did it. At least in Punjab, where the party runs the government, it was the Capt Amarinder Singh government which claimed to had spent Rs 35 crore rather than the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.

Now the railway minister Piyush Goyal has sought to give a pat on the back to his government for a "commendable work” in transporting the migrants. He has said that the railways operated 4155 Shramik trains and transported some 57 lakh migrants. According to him only 71 trains were diverted but he did not mention how most of the trains ran behind schedule and took many extra hours to reach their destination than their normal duration.

He also said that there were several instances when such trains did not run to their full capacity. He forgot that the trains were allowed much after lakhs of migrants had already reached their homes. Those left behind that little choice but to stay put because of two major reasons : firstly that the gradual lifting of lockdown had led to demand for jobs and second they would face quarantine of at least two weeks when they arrive in their home states.

Indian railways run 20,000 passenger trains daily, according to its own official figures.  It could have cleared the rush within a few days and there would have been less panic if the trains were allowed to run. While during the initial days of lockdown there were coronavirus positive cases in hundreds, now these are over two lakh. 

Former Union Railways minister Pawan Bansal has said that the Railways, instead of contributing Rs 151 crore to the PMCARE fund, should have utilised the amount to transport migrants back to their homes for free.

The claims of the railway minister Piyush Goyal that the railways did a commendable job is highly misplaced. Ideally it should have taken the responsibility itself rather than asking states to share the cost of running Shramik trains. Alternatively it could have made claims for running special trains later because the states were already starved of funds due to non payment of GST dues and drying up of revenue from petroleum products and sale of liquor.
 
 

(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.)

 
 
 Watch Video:

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:

 

Amarinder govt’s nefarious plan to steal Shamlat Lands will spell death knell of Punjab

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties  

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE         

 OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION         

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL       

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

BAD, BAD WOMAN!

 


 

_______________________________________________________________

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT




 






Comment






MOST VISITED
You may also Like

TOPIC CLOUD

TAGS CLOUD

ARCHIVE



Copyright © 2016-2017







NEWS LETTER