Operations of Shramik Special trains from Karnataka to different parts of the country to transport migrant workers helped South Western Railway (SWR) earn ₹28.9 crore. The SWR operated 229 trains to ferry around 3.32 lakh people to their home towns.
“Till May 23, migrant workers were paying for tickets to travel back to their respective States. However, some States such as Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and Kerala were bearing the travel expense. After May 23, migrant workers started travelling for free, with expenses borne by States,” said Chief PRO of SWR E. Vijaya.
The initial decision to make migrant workers pay high fares for berths was heavily criticised. They were forced to pay huge amounts for train tickets and city bus fares to reach railway stations. In the initial days, the BMTC used to collect fare from migrant workers and transfer the rail ticket price to the Railways. On May 22, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa announced that the State would bear their travel cost.
A majority of the migrant workers who left Karnataka were from Bihar. Data collated by the SWR shows that 1.07 lakh people returned to their native places in Bihar in 73 trains. Uttar Pradesh accounts for the second largest migrant movement: to date, 73,498 people from that State who were working in Karnataka travelled to their home towns in 51 trains. This is followed by West Bengal (40,395 migrant workers), Jharkhand (30,962), and Odisha (24,357).
The least number of trains — one each — were operated to Kerala, Nagaland, and Mizoram.
To 17 States
A release from the SWR stated that since May 3, Shramik Special trains were operated from Karnataka to 17 States. Till June 13, around 229 trains ran from various points such as KSR Bengaluru, Bengaluru Cantonment, Chikkabanavara, Malur, Ashokapuram, and Hubballi.
The highest number of migrant workers travelled from Bengaluru division. According to the SWR, 194 Shramik Specials were operated from Bengaluru, ferrying 2.84 lakh passengers. From Hubballi Division, 30,580 travelled in 21 trains, and 16,974 passengers travelled in 12 trains from Mysuru Division.
“The SWR transported the first one lakh passengers in 13 days, the next one lakh passengers were transported in just six days. Shramik Specials were run every day from May 3 with the exception of two days — May 6 and 7,” states the release.