Migrants’ train fare: Govt slams Congress for ‘politicising’ issue | India News

NEW DELHI: The government on Monday slammed the Congress for politicising the migrant travel issue, saying “sometimes facts are counter-intuitive to emotions”.
Soon after the Congress alleged that the government is charging train fares from migrant workers, the BJP issued a clarification that no tickets are being sold and the cost of the journey is being borne by the Indian Railways and the respective state governments.
The clarification came as the Congress and several other opposition parties lashed out at the Central government accusing it of charging train fares from migrant workers.
Thousands of migrant workers are stuck in various parts of the country due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown imposed last month. Last week, the Central government had announced special trains will be arranged to send the migrant workers back home.
“We have to understand that we are in a situation of lockdown and some poor migrants are stuck. The Government has already requested people to stay where they are, but some people need to travel to reach their native place because of multiple issues. They need to be helped, but everyone does not need to travel,” government sources told TOI.
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The onus of preparing the list of migrant workers eligible for travelling lies with the state government, the government source said.
“State Governments give a list of people along with a destination to Railways which then arranges for special trains,” it clarified.
“Indian Railways pays for 85% of the total cost, which accounts for the train, social distancing, loss of return fare, etc. States have to pay for the remaining 15%, which in this case is not a large amount but ensures accountability in the system,” the source added.
Underlining the importance of the role played by the state government in this exercise, it said that doing away with this system “would be catastrophic”.
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“Because states identify, do health screening and decide the passengers on the basis of their need. Doing away with this system would be catastrophic as lakhs of people would start travelling, risking our villages. We surely don’t want our villages becoming Italy,” the source said.
Responding to Sonia Gandhi’s announcement that her party would bear the cost of migrant workers’ travel, the government source added that the Congress president should have instead instructed her state government “to pay their share”.
“What Congress President has said doesn’t change much on the ground, because Railways is already paying for 85% of the fares. Instead of Party, it would have been better if she would have instructed her state governments to not indulge in politics and pay their share,” it said.
“Grand but baseless announcements may help a dejected opposition, but to ensure people get proper help, the government has to ensure systems work with proper processes & full accountability. Railways has run 34 trains successfully without any issue, but this announcement by Sonia Gandhi has the potential to mess the entire system and create chaos,” it added.

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