The Centre on Tuesday issued new guidelines, including social distancing and schedules, for the movement of stranded migrant labourers by Shramik Special trains during the lockdown put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the standard operating procedure (SOPs) must be strictly implemented by the central ministries and departments as well as states and union territories.
Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla said the movement of Shramik trains shall be permitted by the Ministry of Railways in consultation with MHA.
All states and union territories will have to designate nodal authorities and make necessary arrangements for receiving and sending the stranded worker, Bhalla said.
“The train schedule, including stoppages and destination, shall be finalised by the Ministry of Railways based on the requirements of states/UTs and shall be communicated by railways to the states/UTs for making suitable arrangements for sending and receiving such stranded workers,” the top bureaucrat wrote.
Train schedule, protocols for entry and movement of passengers, services to be provided in coaches, and arrangements with states and union territories for booking of tickets shall be publicised by the railways.
The states, union territories, and railways shall ensure that all passengers shall be compulsorily screened, and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the trains.
All passengers will have to observe social distancing during boarding and the duration of their travel. On arrival at their destination, the passengers will have to adhere to health protocols prescribed by the destination states and union territories.
The new guidelines come a day after MHA directed states to cooperate to help migrant workers walking to their homes from various parts of the country. Bhalla asked the states to coordinate with the railway ministry for running more special trains to ferry the migrants.
State administration must make designated rest places on the routes taken by the migrants, the home secretary said as he asked them to ensure sanitation, food, and health in these areas.
Bhalla added district administration and states should make sure that no migrant worker has to resort to walking on roads or railway tracks.