New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) The Union Home Ministry on Tuesday issued a fresh Standard Operating Protocols (SOPs) directing all Ministries, States and Union Territories (UTs) to ensure that "no migrant worker has to resort to walking on roads or railway tracks to reach his destination".
Followed by similar SOPs issued on May 11, the new norms clarified that district authorities will have to request the Ministry of Railways for running more trains, where required, so that migrants could not walk on roads due to lack of proper arrangements. As the government has already run 'Shramik' special trains to ferry migrant workers to their native places, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued these fresh SOPs emphasizing on strict adherence to health, hygiene and social distancing.
These SOPs are in continuation of the revised consolidated guidelines on lockdown measures issued on Sunday, and allow movement of stranded workers by trains under various measures that include the Ministry of Railways (MoR) that would permit Movement of 'Shramik' special trains in consultation with the MHA.
The MHA had on May 1 and May 5 also issued such SOPs which are conferred under Disaster Management Act allowing movement of persons by train.
As per the SOPs, all states and UTs will have to designate nodal authorities and make necessary arrangements for receiving and sending such stranded persons.
Based on the requirements of states and UTs, the train schedule, including stoppages and destination would be finalized by the Ministry of Railways. "States and UTs would make suitable arrangements for sending and receiving such stranded workers."
Publicity of train schedule, protocols for entry and movement of passengers, services to be provided in coaches, and arrangements with states and UTs for booking of tickets would be done by the Ministry of Railways, the SOPs mentioned.
It has been stressed that states and UTs and the Ministry of Railways would ensure that all passengers are compulsorily screened and only asymptomatic passengers are allowed to board the train. "Social distancing to be observed by all passengers during boarding and travel. On arrival at their destination, the travelling passengers will have to adhere to such health protocols as are prescribed by the destination state and UT."
The Home Ministry SOPs directed states and UTs for its strict implementation so that migrant workers can be facilitated the train facility simultaneously following the norms to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 3,163 deaths and infected over 1 lakh persons across the country till Tuesday.
The Indian Railways has operated 1,565 'Shramik' special trains since May 1 and ferried home more than 20 lakh migrants stranded in various parts of the country amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday through tweet.