Days after the government informed Parliament that it has no data on the death of migrant labourers, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal told the Rajya Sabha that 97 persons died while travelling on Shramik Special trains between May 1 and September 9.
The Minister said that the national transporter had not collected any fare from the migrants.
“Shramik Specials were booked by the state governments or their representatives on payment of fare. Revenue of Rs 433 crore was collected from them for running the Shramik Special trains till August 31. As many as 63.19 lakh shramiks/stranded passengers travelled in these trains,” Goyal said on Saturday.
He was responding to a question by Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien in the Rajya Sabha on Friday regarding details of total deaths on board the Shramik trains since they started operating.
Goyal said: “Based on the data provided by state police, 97 persons have been reported dead till September 9 while travelling on Shramik Special trains during the Covid-19 crisis.”
He said that police registers FIRs under Section 174 of the CrPC in cases of unnatural deaths and follows the legal process.
“Out of these 97 deaths, police sent the bodies for post-mortem in 87 cases. In all, 51 post-mortem reports have been obtained from the respective state police so far, in which the reasons for deaths have been shown as cardiac arrest, heart disease, brain haemorrhage, pre-existing chronic disease, chronic lung disease, chronic liver disease etc.
The Railways started Shramik Special trains from May 1 to transport stranded migrant workers, students, pilgrims and tourists.
The Railways had suspended the passenger, Mail and Express train services on March 25 due to the nationwide lockdown.
After resuming operation of Shramik Special trains, the Railways started operating 15 pairs of Special air-conditioned trains from May 12 and 100 pairs of time-tabled trains from June 1.
From September 12, the Railways pressed 40 more pairs of trains into service.
Goyal said that since policing on Railways was a State subject, prevention of crime, registration of cases, investigation and maintenance of law and order on railway premises as well as running trains were the statutory responsibility of the respective state governments, which they discharged through the Government Railway Police (GRP)/district police.
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) supplements the efforts of GRP/district police to provide better protection and security to passengers and related matters.