Over 6.44 lakh migrants, stranded in Punjab due to nation-wide lockdown for preventing the spread of Covid-19, have expressed interest in returning to their native places.

These over 6.44 lakh migrant workers have registered on the state government’s specially created portal (www.covidhelp.punjab.gov.in) for seeking details of migrants desiring to return home.

As per rough estimates, Ludhiana alone had over seven lakh migrant labourers, with the whole of Punjab having over a million of them. About 70 per cent of these labourers in Punjab hail from Bihar.

Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, on Monday, sought special trains for 10 to 15 days for these migrant workers.

In a letter to Union home minister Amit Shah, the CM sought his personal intervention to arrange special trains for the next 10-15 days, beginning 5 May, for transporting migrant labourers stranded in Punjab to their homes in other states.

He urged the Union home minister to direct the Ministry of Railways to make suitable arrangements since the migrant labourers stranded in Punjab were “understandably restless to return to their native places.”

In his letter to Shah, Amarinder said that his government would indicate its daily requirement of trains in advance to the Ministry of Railways for the next 10-15 days to transport all the people who had registered on the portal.

At the local level, the CM said Punjab officers were coordinating with the senior Railways officers and the officers of recipient states to plan the smooth movement of the migrants.

He said a large number of labourers come seasonally from UP, Bihar and other eastern states to seek temporary employment in both industrial and agricultural sector in Punjab.

These people, who were due to leave in March, normally after Holi, could not leave due to the imposition of lockdown this year, he pointed out.

Though the state government had made all possible arrangements to provide them food and shelter in the past six weeks, they were now naturally keen to get back home, said Amarinder, urging the Home Minister to immediately intervene in view of the “special exigency.