Migrants prefer trucks, tempos to return home; no distancing By Kailash Korde

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Mumbai, May 16 (PTI) Even as special Shramik trains
and buses are being run by the government to ferry stranded
migrant labourers from Maharashtra and other states, most of
them still prefer to travel in vehicles like trucks and tempos
to return home, flouting the social distancing norms.

The migrants find trucks and tempos convenient, mostly
because they drop them close to their home in their respective
states, unlike the buses which carry them only till the state
border, while the trains ferry them to their home state, from
where they have to arrange for vehicles to reach their places.

However, their journey in trucks and tempos is not
safe as these vehicles are almost always tightly packed, due
to which the risk of contracting COVID-19 infection is higher.

Small tempos carry around 20 persons, while the
medium-sized ones can accommodate 25 to 40 people. Small
trucks can carry 40 to 60 people, while the larger ones are
found carrying up to 100 or even more, with several of them
sitting atop.

Sources said that the truckers charge anywhere in the
range of Rs 1,500 to Rs 4,500 per person for the journey to
Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand depending
upon the distance to their native places from Mumbai and
adjoining places.

Talking to PTI, several migrant labourers said that
vehicle operators charge Rs 1,500-2,000 for MP, Rs 3,000-3,500
for UP and Rs 3,000-4,500 for Bihar.

The migrants said that they prefer trucks and tempos
to go back to their native places as the trucks drop them
close to their villages, while buses drop them only till the
state border, from where they have to find another mode of
transport to reach home.

Several of them said that they were forced to
undertake journey in vehicles like trucks, as their efforts in
seeking permission for Shramik special trains did not get any
response.

Umesh Kumar Maurya, a worker from a sweet shop in
Kalyan, who was heading to Lucknow, said, “For the train
journey, I had first applied online and later on visited local
police station in Kalyan three times. However, I did not get
any response and hence decided to take road journey.”

After the Centre extended the lockdown, especially for
the second time, a large number of migrants started returning
home by whatever mode of transport available to them. A large
number of them even started their journey back home on foot.

According to the residents of villages located along
the highways, until last week a large number of migrants could
be seen walking in groups with their meagre belongings on
their head and back. However, slowly the number of them going
on foot started dwindling as most of them are now hiring
trucks and tempos.

Mumbai, which is one of the biggest COVID-19 hotspots
in the country with over 17,500 cases so far, houses lakhs of
migrants.

During a surprise visit on Thursday evening,
Maharashtra Transport Commissioner Shekhar Channe checked a
few trucks and tempos on the Mumbai-Agra Highway. During the
inspection at Bhiwandi Phata, he found over 55 migrants
crammed inside a truck.

He directed the RTO officials to impound the UP-
registered truck that was without any number plate, and take
necessary action against the operator. He also asked the
authorities to arrange for free buses for the migrants found
inside the truck.

Apart from Shramik special trains being run for the
labourers from different cities in Maharashtra, including
Mumbai, the state government has arranged free buses to drop
them till the state border. Around 22 migrants are carried in
each bus.

According to the Maharashtra State Road Transport
Corporation (MSRTC), it has ferried over 1.34 lakh passengers
in 10,000 buses till Friday.

Channe said, “RTO officials have been asked to take
action against the trucks and tempos illegally carrying
migrants. They have also been asked to arrange free buses for
the people found travelling in such vehicles.”

According to RTO officials, before travelling in
trucks and tempos, the migrants do not apply for e-passes,
issued for intra-state and inter-state travel. Even the truck
operators do not have any permission to ferry them, and hence
the entire exercise is illegal.

Sources said that the trucks returning to UP, Bihar,
MP and Jharkhand prefer to ferry the migrants instead of
running empty and some agents do the booking for the
labourers.

From the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), the truck
operators pick up the migrants from Majiwade in Thane,
Ghodbandar, Mira Bhayander, and many other locations on
Mumbai-Agra highway, apart from Anjur phata and Bhiwandi
phata.

Small tempos charging Rs 100-500 per person drop the
migrants outside Mumbai, from where trucks and tempos pick up
these migrants. Many of them even to walk from Mumbai to these
pick-up points.

Sources said that most of the times, the authorities,
turn a blind eye towards the trucks and tempos ferrying
labourers illegally without following any social distancing
norms. PTI KK
NP NP



Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI


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