Nearly 4,000 migrant workers get alerts for a single train to Assam


Nearly 4,000 people, including children, from Assam and neighbouring States in northeast India congregated at Palace Grounds, which is a transit centre for migrant labourers before they board trains to their hometowns, on Friday morning. Though only one train with seating capacity of 1,600 passengers was scheduled to leave the city for Assam on Friday, more than double the number of people turned up, leading to chaos and confusion.

A senior official blamed the Seva Sindhu portal, which he alleged had malfunctioned again. “Bulk messages seem to have gone to more people than the available seating capacity,” the senior official said.

This is not the first time that officials on the ground have faced such an issue. On May 23, nearly 9,000 labourers wanting to go to Odisha and Manipur turned up at Palace Grounds only to realise that the messages they had received from the portal about their train berths were incorrect.

Eventually, officials co-ordinated with Indian Railways and the government of Assam, and organised another train for the stranded migrants.

“A majority of them will be put on trains by Friday night. The remainder will be asked to return home and wait for the next train to Assam,” a senior official said. “With Cyclone Amphan in West Bengal and floods in Assam, not many trains have left for these States, creating a long waiting list. Migrants from these States are frustrated by the delays,” said Chetan Singh Rathore, DCP (Central).

Rosemary Vishwanath, a citizen activist who was at Palace Grounds trying to help migrant labourers navigate the process of registering and medical check-ups, criticised the absence of administration on Friday morning. “No arrangements were made for food, drinking water or toilets. Even the venue where the migrant labourers were temporarily housed was under renovation, with a part of the roof and most of the lights removed. This is not the way to treat other human beings,” she said.

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Kaleemullah, another volunteer who is part of an NGO that provided temporary shelter to over 200 migrant labourers from Assam, had accompanied them to Palace Grounds. “Even the officials seemed taken aback. The facility lacked any arrangements,” he said.

It was only by late afternoon that food was organised.

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Sagar Biswas

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