No consent required from destination states to run trains

The railways said the consent of the destination states is not required to operate Shramik Special trains. The statement follows a clash between the Centre and several states over the movement of migrant workers on such trains. The authorities are yet to release revised guidelines explaining the changes in protocol.

The statement came hours after the Central government issued a standard operating procedure which said that for running the Shramik Special trains permission will be given by the Ministry of Railways in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs. States and Union territories should designate nodal authorities and make necessary arrangements for receiving and sending stranded people, reads the SOP.

However, the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Railways on May 2 read that “the consent of the receiving state shall be obtained by the originating state, and a copy provided to Railways before departure of the train”. Railway spokesperson Rajesh Dutt Bajpai on Tuesday said, “The consent of the terminating state is not necessary to run Shramik specials.”

Over the last few weeks, the Centre has alleged that some states, including West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, which have a significant migrant population in other states, were not giving permission to let the trains come in. This, it said, resulted in lakhs of them walking hundreds of kilometres towards their homes. While the states have denied the allegations, data has shown otherwise.

According to officials, while the railways has the capacity to run around 300 trains per day, it is operating half of that number because destination states are not sending an adequate number of approvals. The fare payment for such journeys is yet to be finalised. While the railways in its guidelines has said that the onus of payment is on the originating states, the cost is sometimes being shared between states

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