In a wrangle with Uddhav Thackeray over trains for migrants, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted on Sunday that his ministry would work overnight if it received within one hour a list of trains, passengers and destinations from the Maharashtra Chief Minister. The provocation – Mr Thackeray alleging that he had got only half the trains he had asked for.
The Railways Minister continued prodding the Maharashtra government till 2.11 am.
“Where is the list for 125 trains from Maharashtra? As of 2 am, received list of only 46 trains of which five are to West Bengal and Odisha which cannot operate due to cyclone Amphan. We are notifying only 41 trains for today despite being prepared for 125!!!” – Mr Goyal tweeted.
Where is the list for 125 trains from Maharashtra? As of 2am, received list of only 46 trains of which 5 are to West Bengal and Odisha which cannot operate due to cyclone Amphan.
We are notifying only 41 trains for today despite being prepared for 125 !!!
– Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) May 24, 2020
The fight started when in his video address to Maharashtra on Sunday, Mr Thackeray said he had demanded 80 migrant special trains a day but was getting only 40.
The Chief Minister also said the state had paid Rs 85 crore for the trains till now.
Mr Goyal retorted in a dozen tweets over the next few hours. He said the Railways Ministry was ready to send as many trains as required to states, provided they do not “return empty”.
“I hope that these trains will not have to leave empty after arriving at the station like it has happened earlier. I would like to assure you that the trains you need will be available,” tweeted the Minister, referring to instances of migrants in Maharashtra not taking the trains and setting out for their home states on foot or in trucks.
“We are ready to provide 125 Shramik Special trains to Maharashtra. Since you have said that you have a list ready that is why I am requesting you to please provide all information like from where the train will run, the list of passengers according to the trains, their medical certificate and where the train is to go, to the General Manager of Central Railway within the next hour, so that we can plan the time of trains,” Mr Goyal tweeted.
After some time, another tweet said: “Sadly, it has been 1.5 hours but Maharashtra Govt. has been unable to give required information about tomorrow’s planned 125 trains to GM of Central Railway. Planning takes time and we do not want train to stand empty at the stations, so it’s impossible to plan without full details.”
Mr Goyal added: “I hope that the Government of Maharashtra will fully cooperate in the efforts made for the benefit of migrant labourers.”
The Maharashtra government alleges that the railways have not responded to its request for local train services in Mumbai for essential services staff. Local trains are regarded as the lifeline of Mumbai. The state government has been using buses to transport those working in essential services and plans to use buses to facilitate flights and train services, an official told NDTV.
The centre-state feud has peaked over trains for migrants stranded by the coronavirus lockdown and desperate to go home. The ruling BJP accuses opposition-ruled states of not allowing these trains.