Here’s how much stranded migrants had to pay for travel back home

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on June 17, 2020 Published on June 17, 2020

Migrants arrive from Ernakulam at Hatia Railway Station to reach their native places, during the fifth phase of Covid-19 lockdown, in Ranchi, Saturday, June 6, 2020.   -  PTI

Stranded migrants had to shell out several times more than normal fare for travelling home and only 15 per cent of them got to travel free, according to a national survey of around 2,000 people. The study was carried out by a civil society group that has been helping migrants go home after the lockdown was announced.

Of the total migrants on move, 40 per cent took trains, 40 per cent took buses, 12 per cent took trucks, and six per cent travelled by foot, based on the response of 540 people who could answer. But many of them had to pay bribes to get tickets to travel, alleged Stranded Workers Action Network (SWAN), the group.

Also, a lot more people wanted to travel back home by the end of May compared to the number of people at the end of April. About 67 per cent respondent migrants are still stuck in the same place since the start of lockdown , and only 33 per cent have left, SWAN said in a report based on inputs gathered through a remote phone based survey.

“Of 1,166 people who were stuck, more than half (55 per cent) want to go home immediately. This figure is higher than when we asked the same set of workers this question at April-end. At that point 33 per cent wanted to leave immediately after the second phase of lockdown ended,” the report said.

The pain of journey back home mounted as travel fares migrants had to shell out shot up and many of them had to pay bribes, reckoned SWAN. “Lal Chavan from Laxminagar, Tiruppur said that police were collecting ₹1,500 to give out tokens for Shramik trains. The police were giving out a certain number of tokens for free, and after that number, they would start charging higher amounts,” repoirt said.

“Jalauddin from Jharkhand was stranded in Bengaluru, with a group of six others. When they approached the police to get tokens to board the Shramik train, they were asked to pay ₹500 to be let through the gate. Then, they were asked to board a government transport bus which would take them to the railway station. They had to pay a total of ₹1,020 that included the train fare and bus fare,” the report added.

As public transport modes fell short, several migrant groups tried to travel back to their homes using private transport and paying much higher than what they would in normal times. One of the respondents said he paid as high as ₹9,500 to travel in a minibus from Chennai to West Bengal.

"Eighty-five per cent of the migrants had to pay for their transport. Even those who took the trains also had to pay,” Anindita Adhikari, volunteer with SWAN said. About 62 per cent paid over ₹1,500 for travel, followed by 14 per cent who paid ₹500-1,000, and 4.4 per cent people paid ₹1,000-1,500.

One of the travellers had to pay ₹2,100 for a ride from Delhi and Bhagalpur in a truck, four times more than train fare ride of approximately ₹545.

For a bus ride from the IT and MNC hub Gurgaon to his home place Samastipur, one of the stranded migrants paid ₹1,700, over three times the train fare of ₹555. For a bus ride from Bengaluru to Odisha and Jharkhand, migrants paid ₹6,000. A ride in Duranto Express between Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar would have cost about ₹910.

Railways received an average of ₹600 in the migrant special trains, said Chairman of Railway Board VK Yadav. The Indian Railways on the other hand had to incur an average expenditure ₹3,600 per person.

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Published on June 17, 2020
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