On Friday, Gopal Rai, AAP leader and Labour Minister of the Delhi Government claimed on Twitter that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal would bear the cost of 1200 migrant labourers, travelling via Sramik Express from Delhi to their hometown in Muzaffarpur in Bihar, amidst the coronavirus lockdown.
Gopal Rai tweeted that a train has already started for Muzaffarpur in Bihar, and the Delhi govt is paying for the fare of the all 1200 people travelling on the train.
A statement issued by Delhi govt had said that government ensured safe travel, social distancing, food and water for all the passengers who were returning to their native places from Delhi. “Most of these states are yet to respond on the matter of bearing the travel costs of these stranded people. The Delhi government has taken the decision to bear the cost to avoid any further inconvenience to stranded workers,” the statement issued by Arvind Kejriwal led AAP government had added.
What is the Truth?
On Friday night, Janata Dal (United) leader, Dr. Ajay Alok took to Twitter to slam Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for misleading migrant workers about paying their train fares for the Shramik Express. He has shared a letter from the Department of Social Welfare of the Delhi Government wherein it becomes clear that the State is only facilitating the travel of migrant workers but not ensuring a “free journey.”
The Bihar Government had earlier informed that the migrant workers need to buy tickets and would be compensated after they reach Muzaffarpur from Delhi, in a letter, dated May 6. In the letter fated 7th May to the Bihar govt, the Delhi govt says that due to logistical issues, the inability of several workers to make an advance payment, difficulty in maintaining social distancing guidelines, the Delhi Government will pay for the tickets for the migrants going back to Bihar. But the letter also asks the Bihar govt to pay back the amount to Delhi govt. “You are requested not to reimbursement the fare to passengers but the same may be reimbursed to GNCTD (Govt of National Capital Territory of Delhi).
The letter further mentions that the approximate dare for one train to Muzaffarpur is Rs 6.5 lakh, and the actual fare will be indicated shortly.
Bihar water resources minister Sanjay Kumar Jha also slammed the Delhi for lying. He tweeted to Arvind Kejriwal that his minister is claiming that Delhi govt is paying the train fare, and after that sent letter to Bihar govt asking for money.
“Delhi government is lying that it is buying tickets for Shramik special trains in bulk for sending back migrant workers from Bihar and seeking reimbursement from us. In adherence to the Centre’s guidelines, CM Nitish Kumar has already announced that each migrant worker will be reimbursed the train fare, whether they have actually paid for it or not. Besides, another Rs 500 would be given to each migrant worker returning from other states by special trains. Both these amounts, with a clause of minimum Rs 1000, will be reimbursed at the quarantine camps set up in districts and block headquarters,” Jha told Times of India.
Sanjay Jha added, “Delhi government has been creating confusion from the very beginning of this lockdown. They first sent migrant workers on buses without any communication with us and now they are trying to create an issue over money for special trains”.
It is clear now that Arvind Kejriwal-led-Delhi Government did not “bear the cost of migrant labourers” as reported in the media and claimed by minister Gopal Rai. It has paid the train fares initially as ticket sell to individual travellers will create problems, and in fact, that is against the Union Home Ministry guidelines, and later the Delhi govt will collect the amount from the concerned state governments.
Earlier, the Delhi government, in a controversial move, had issued a circular for all the health professionals and paramedic staff on coronavirus duty in the national capital, through which they had been cautioned to refrain from flagging their problems, related to duty, on any social media platform.