Coronavirus lockdown | Bihar to reimburse fare of returning migrants

Announcement follows Congress, RJD offers to pay for workers’ travel

Hours after Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced on Monday that her party would pay the train fare for migrants heading home on special trains and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejaswhi Yadav offered to foot the bill for the first 50 trains to Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said while migrant workers will be reimbursed the entire expenses they incurred on the journey and an additional ₹500 once they have completed their 21-day quarantine on reaching Bihar.

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In a video message released to the press, Mr. Kumar also added that “the migrants will also be paid a minimum of ₹1,000 which already has been given to 19 lakh people of the State.”

“We’ve taken the decision to ensure free journey for the students returning to the State and a similar facility has also been extended to the migrants,” he added.

Opposition pressure

Earlier in the day, opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav tweeted: “As per Union Home Ministry’s directions the State governments would have to arrange trains to bring back stranded migrants …so we urge the State government not to charge train fares from labourer brothers as the main opposition party RJD is ready to bear the expenses of first 50 trains.”

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“Whenever they [railways] will ask, RJD is ready to pay their fares through check to the government,” the RJD leader added.

Earlier on Sunday, president of the Bihar unit of the BJP Sanjay Jaiswal also took on his government for lack of information for stranded workers on trains set to bring them back.

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“The problem with Bihar government is that no official comes before the media to clarify which types of shops will open in which zone or which train is coming to Bihar and whether the registration [of workers] will be in other States or in Bihar…the State government should take lessons from the Uttar Pradesh, where the Chief Secretary briefs the media,” Mr. Jaiswal said in a post on social media.

According to principal secretary of the State Disaster Management Department Pratyaya Amrit five trains — three from Kota in Rajasthan with stranded students, two from Kerala and Telangana with migrants — were scheduled to reach the State later in the day.

As many as 12 Shramik Special trains carrying nearly 13,200 stranded migrant workers, students and others are scheduled to reach Bihar on Tuesday at different stations.

“At least 1,150 to 1,250 passengers will be accommodated in each train…free food is provided to passengers travelling in these special trains,” said Rajesh Kumar, Chief Public Relation Officer of East Central Railway (ECR).

Bihar, so far, has reported 525 COVID-19 positive cases, four deaths and 125 recoveries so far. Total 29,254 sample tests have been conducted as on Monday.

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