The Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra has made it mandatory for the migrant workers to furnish a health certificate, confirming that the person is not suffering from any disease or infection to secure passes from the police for their travel back to their hometowns. The migrant workers have to shell out Rs 150-200 to get the medical certificate, adding to their already dire financial woes due to the more than a month-long coronavirus lockdown.
In Mumbai Udhav govt is charging— Priya Kulkarni (@priyaakulkarni2) May 4, 2020
RS 200 to check a body temperature of migrant workers and give them a certificate to they can leave. They are standing for hours@Dev_Fadnavis @KiritSomaiya pic.twitter.com/AUWn2ktbo9
According to the report by Zee 24 Taas, huge queues of migrant workers defying lockdown restrictions and social distancing norms are being witnessed at various health centres in Mumbai where medical certificates are being issued to the migrant workers. The migrants are reportedly being charged anywhere between Rs 150 to Rs 200 for the issuance of the health certificate crucial to their travel back home.
As per one of the migrant workers who got a health certificate for himself, he paid Rs 200 for a certificate which only included the screening of body temperature. The report said that when the doctors in-charge of the screenings were asked on whose orders fees is being collected from the migrant workers for issuing certificates, they remained evasive and avoided answering the questions citing their hectic schedule.
It is pertinent to note that the state of Maharashtra is ruled by Maha Vikas Aghadi government- a coalition of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and the Indian National Congress. Earlier today, the interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi stoked the unfounded rumours by declaring that Congress party will bear the non-existent fares supposedly charged by the central government for migrant workers’ travel.
Congress adds fuel to the rumours alleging that the central government is charging railway fare from migrant workers
Following the decision by Modi government to run Shramik Special trains to help millions of migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and others stranded by the lockdown return home, there was a concerted campaign to discredit the efforts of the Modi government.
The Hindu published a baseless story alleging that Railways is charging extra money from stranded migrants to travel in special trains. After the confusion seeded by The Hindu’s report gained traction, senior ministry officials clarified that the passengers will not be paying for the tickets. “As these are not regular trains, but special trains which will run on the request of state government, there is no provision to buy tickets for those trains. The respective state governments will book the trains by making the payment as charged by the Indian Railways, and the passengers do not have to pay anything,” one of the officials said.
However, Congress leaders took advantage of the confusion to score political brownie points. Several of the Congress leaders today took to Twitter to claim that since the government is charging money for the railway fare of the stranded migrants going back home on Shramik Special trains, the party will chip in and bear the expenses for the same. This offer to pay for the migrants’ fare came two days after the Railway Ministry had clarified that the state and central governments are facilitating the movement of migrants through Shramik Special trains. Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi alleged that the Railways is recovering fares from the stranded migrants. He then questioned the Railways Ministry for donating Rs 151 crore to the PM-CARES fund.
The central government has already clarified that they are bearing 85% of the cost and the states are bearing 15% of the train travel cost for transporting the migrant labourers in the Shramik Special trains.