A ‘Shramik Special’ train carrying 1200 migrant labourers of Jharkhand reached Ranchi on Friday.

The train – first one to be run in the country following enforcement of lockdown to contain COVID-19 spread – started its journey from Lingampalli Railway Station in Telangana and travelled non-stop to arrive at Hatia Railway Station near Ranchi.

The Hemant Soren Government heaved a sigh of relief as the train service resumed exclusively for migrant labourers coinciding with International Labour Day.

The government was under enormous pressure with close to one million migrant labourers from the tribal dominated State reported stranded in different parts of the country.

Late evening on Thursday, migrant workers from Jharkhand had burst into jubilation when Telangana police knocked at their doors.

“It was probably 11.30 p.m. on Thursday when Telangana police came to the construction site of Shapoorji Pallonji near Hyderabad where we were working. A police person called out labourers only from Jharkhand and asked to get ready to go home. It was a pleasant surprise as we had no idea about the train journey,” said Mohan Mohini Mahto, a construction worker.

“We did not take even 10 minutes to board the bus waiting at the site. The bus took us to Lingampalli Railway Station. Throughout the night, fellow Jharkhandi labourers kept pouring in at the station,” described Mr. Mahto.

Teams deployed at the station measured temperature of each passenger before allowing them to board the train. “Once the train started at 5 a.m. on Friday, our happiness knew no bound,” said Gulab Chand Mahto, another migrant labourer from Bokaro district of Jharkhand.

At Hatia Station near Ranchi, as many as 60 sanitised buses were kept ready to take these workers to their respective villages. In the evening, Chief Minister Hemant Soren visited Hatia station to take stock of preparedness for receiving the first batch of labourers coming by trains.

Upon their arrival, each migrant worker was welcomed with a mask and a flower. Thermal screening was conducted along with registration of workers. They would be asked to undergo home quarantine. If required, some migrant workers could be sent to institutional quarantine.

Also read: Coronavirus lockdown | Jharkhand CM demands uniform guidelines on migrants’ return

Mr. Soren chaired meeting of cabinet subcommittee and officials at Ranchi on Friday. It was decided that every individual stranded outside the State would be brought back. As many as 2883 students of Jharkhand stranded in Kota, Rajasthan would also be brought back by special trains.

As part of action plan to transport labourers in a phased manner, buses will be sent to Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh to bring them back. About 34,000 workers from Jharkhand are stranded in these States.

Stating that the real challenge Jharkhand would face after return of migrants is to provide them employment, Mr. Soren directed officials to prepare a separate comprehensive action plan for employment generation in both rural and urban areas.

According to decision taken in the meeting, the government will take steps to ensure employment of about 75% of local people in different industries.

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