Migrants on ‘Ram bharose’ journey as IR re-routes trains(2nd Ld)

Mumbai, May 23 (IANS) The woes of thousands of migrants returning to their home states seems to have multiplied as the Indian Railways abruptly changed the routes of several special trains which left Maharashtra and Gujarat in the past couple of days, according to sources here on Saturday.

Rajesh Kumar, Eastern Central Railway spokesperson, told IANS, “We received the train at Gomoh (Jharkhand) at 6.15 p.m. on Saturday. We have run the train continuously without holding it anywhere. The train is expected to reach Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay railway station at 10 p.m. From there it is likely to take another 3-4 hours to reach Gorakhpur.”

The train that left from Vasai on May 21 for Gorakhpur is expected to reach its destination on early Sunday morning.

Earlier in the day, a senior railway ministry official in Delhi said, “We have decided to run few of the shramik trains on diverted routes. Some trains are diverted for Bihar via Rourkela yesterday to clear congestion.”

Speaking about the confusion, the official said: “There must have been some operational compulsion of these diversions. The Railways has been operationalising things at a time when conditions are really challenging. Movement and converging of hundreds of trains in direction of one or two states from all kinds of train routes is a complex exercise. It has never happened before in the country like this. We are managing the developments.”

At least 13 trains which left the two neighbouring states for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the past couple of days have now been yanked off their planned routes and re-routed for their destinations, shocking the travelling passengers.

These include special trains which have left or are scheduled to depart from Konkan Railway, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Thane, Vasai Road, Panvel, Kalyan, Pune, Nashik, Manmad, Akola, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Jalna, Bhusawal, Jalgaon (Maharashtra), besides Gujarat’s Surat, Udhna, Valsad and Ankleshwar.

The new route is via Bilaspur-Jharsuguda-Rourkela for the final destinations in UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, etc, said another official.

Confirming the developments, western railway Chief Spokesperson Ravindar Bhakar said that the original planned route was via Itarsi-Manikpur-Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyay Jn.

“There is heavy traffic in this sector and since the past couple of days it is highly congested. Trains are getting delayed by many hours. Hence an alternative route has been designed for quicker movement of the special trains,” Bhakar told IANS.

IR officials informed that the various railway zones have been instructed to take note of the route diversification and arrange for the crew and guard immediately.

Besides the congestion on the Itarsi route, there were safety concerns in view of the cyclonic storm which hit Odisha-West Bengal creating inclement weather conditions in the region.

However, the railways’ honourable intentions have ended up creating bigger problems for the passengers raring to reach their homes after getting stuck in Maharashtra for two months during the ongoing lockdown.

“We have no food, water or no milk for the children, the temperatures are blistering hot. We are eating stale, spoiled leftover food in small portions which we carried from Mumbai since we left on Thursday. If anybody falls ill, there may be more problems,” Vishal Singh, a student from Gorakhpur, lamented his plight to IANS.

A printing press employee in Bhayander (Thane) Baburam Mourya, hailing from Gonda district (UP), said he is with his 10-member family including minor kids with no milk, food or water for anybody.

“The toilets are fully choked up. There is no security on the trains or any conservancy staff to clean the toilets or refill water,” Mourya said, as the train chugged through Jharkhand on Saturday noon.

The duo said when the desperate passengers alight at stations en route to buy food and water, they are abused, heckled and chased away by the locals who don’t cooperate with them.

“The people here fear that since we are coming from Mumbai or Pune, we may be Coronavirus carriers, there’s no cooperation from anywhere. We are on an unending ‘Ram bharose’ journey,” rued Mourya.

Several passengers have lodged online complaints with the IR Twitter handle, Indian Railways Seva, but claimed there has been no relief so far.

–IANS
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