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Bengal to allow special trains from today

“Starting from Wednesday, 206 trains will arrive in the state, with 12-15 trains every day,” said West Bengal home secretary Alapan Bandyoadhyay, adding that the state had to move cautiously as it was battling Covid-19.

Updated: May 27, 2020 02:37 IST

By HT Correspondents, Kolkata/Mumbai/ New Delhi

West Bengal will start receiving special Shramik trains from Wednesday following a controversy over the eastern state not allowing trains from Maharashtra to arrive. (Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times)

West Bengal will start receiving special Shramik trains from Wednesday following a controversy over the eastern state not allowing trains from Maharashtra to arrive.

“Starting from Wednesday, 206 trains will arrive in the state, with 12-15 trains every day,” said West Bengal home secretary Alapan Bandyoadhyay, adding that the state had to move cautiously as it was battling Covid-19.

Bengal had earlier urged the railway board not to send any train to Bengal between May 20 and 26.

“For sending back and accept migrant workers, both states need to agree. Some states are planning suddenly. However, discussions are on so that the synergy doesn’t get disturbed. People in our state are also coming through the land ports from Bhutan and Nepal. People are coming from other states by road. Arrangements have to be made for all of them,” Bandyopadhyay said.



His statement came after Maharashtra said West Bengal was not giving permission to send migrant workers back.

“When we had sent dozens of trains to other states, the migrants who wanted to go to West Bengal had stuck. It was only after chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, we got the permission. We could have sent less than ten trains to West Bengal. Now again the West Bengal and Odisha government have refused to allow trains to their state because of the cyclone Amphan,” a Maharashtra government official who was not willing to be quoted said.

Earlier in the day, West Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha wrote to his Maharashtra counterpart to say that Bengal is not in a position to take 34 trains, as planned, from Maharashtra in the next few days.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) secretary-general and state education minister Partha Chatterjee accused the Centre of mismanaging the Covid-19 crisis and playing politics with states over migrant workers. “It is the Centre that created the crisis over migrant workers with its unplanned lockdown and it is now trying to hamper states’ own plans,” he said.

As of Tuesday, the West Bengal and Odisha government gave permission to operate Shramik trains carrying migrants from Maharashtra. By Tuesday evening, two trains departed for West Bengal from Maharashtra and one Shramik train departed for Odisha.

Officials in the Maharashtra government stated that the controversy over the trains was uncalled for as they have been complying with all the notifications issued by the railway ministry. “We have been submitting the list of the trains required and would submit the list of passengers at the time of buying tickets for them. Until May 24, they (the ministry) never asked for the names of the passengers and why are they insisting on the names now?” the Maharashtra government official quoted above asked.

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