In order to help migrant labourers stranded across the country, Shramik Special trains were started. However, a disturbingly high number of lives have been lost on these trains between May 9 and May 27.
According to the data from the Railway Protection Force, 80 people have lost their lives on board the Shramik Special trains.
Over 3,840 trains have been run across different states and have helped over 5 million labourers that were stuck in different cities. According to the data compiled by Hindustan Times, 18 deaths were recorded in the North Eastern Railway zone, 19 in North Central zone and 13 in East Coast Railway zone.
A statement give by the Railways said that most of the deaths were of people who were ‘chronic disease patients’ who were on their way to get treatment. Another reason is said to be heat and the weather conditions. This sheds light on the reports that claimed that during the initial days, the people travelling in these trains had no access to food or water, because the pantry services on the train or the stations weren’t running.
Most people who boarded went through the entire journey without any food or water. After this came to light, many NGOs offered to set up food banks.
Anyone’s death is a big loss… Indian Railways has a control system where the train is immediately stopped if someone is found ill and they are sent to the nearest hospital base to try and save their lives. In case of deaths, the local zones investigate the reason and without an investigation, there are allegations that they died of hunger when there was no shortage of food. Some deaths occurred and we are compiling the figures… we will issue the figures in a few days.
-VK Yadav, Railway Board Chairman
To give clarity to the situation, on Thursday the Supreme Court stated that no fare will be charged from migrant workers returning home and that they will be provided food and water by the state where the workers are boarding their trains.