Amid reports of people dying onboard Shramik Special trains, the Ministry of Railways in line with the Ministry of Home Affairs has appealed to persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, children below 10 years those above 65 to avoid travel by rail, except in emergency cases.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted the request while asserting that the Indian Railways is committed to ensuring safety of all passengers.
I appeal to people suffering from serious ailments, pregnant women & those above 65 years & below 10 years of age to travel only when necessary in Shramik Trains.
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) May 29, 2020
His remarks come a day after the Supreme Court on Thursday issued interim orders regarding the migrant crisis across the country, two days after it took suo motu cognizance of problems faced by the labourers who are stranded in different parts of the country due to the nationwide lockdown to contain the Coronavirus outbreak.
A video has been going viral on social media of a toddler trying to wake his dead mother at Bihar’s Muzaffarpur railway station.
The Railway Ministry issued a statement saying, “Indian Railways has been running Shramik Special trains on a daily basis throughout the country to ensure that migrants can travel back to their homes. It has been observed that some people, who are availing this service, have pre-existing medical conditions which aggravate the risk they face during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“A few unfortunate cases of deaths related to pre-existing medical conditions while travelling have occurred.”
The Railways said that in order to protect vulnerable persons from COVID-19 in line with the Ministry of Home Affairs’ order dated May 17, the Ministry of Railways is making an appeal that persons with comorbidities — such as hypertension, diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, cancer and immune deficiency conditions — and pregnant women, children below the age of 10 years and persons above 65 years of age may avoid travel by rail, except when it is essential.
It further said that railways is working round the clock to ensure that rail services are provided to all the citizens of the country needing to undertake travel.
“But safety of our passengers is our biggest concern. So, we seek the cooperation of all the citizens in this matter,” it said, adding that in case of any distress or emergency, people should not hesitate to reach out to the Railways on its helpline numbers — 139 and 138.
The Railways had suspended passenger, mail and express train services from March 25 amid the nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of novel coronavirus.
The Railways started running Shramik Special trains from May 1 to transport stranded migrant workers, students, pilgrims and tourists.
The Centre has claimed that so far 91 lakh labourers have been shifted to their native places since May 1.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Supreme Court in a series of orders, directed that no train or bus fare should be charged from migrants travelling back to their homes and that they should be provided food and water by the concerned states during travel.
The top court further stated that if migrant workers are found on foot by any state authority, they should be “taken to shelters immediately and provided with food and all facilities”.
The interim orders came in the backdrop of several deaths being reported onboard Shramik Special trains reportedly due to lack of food and water during the journeys.