Lockdown fears return as migrants board Bihar-bound trains, buses in large numbers

Express News Service
PATNA/MUMBAI:  Trains and buses from metros such as Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Chandigarh, and Delhi to Bihar’s different districts are arriving packed with migrant workers from Bihar amid apprehension of fresh lockdown due to a surge in Covid wave.

The highest number of people and workers are returning from Maharashtra, which is one of the most severely Covid-hit states.  

Mumbai is among the 10 districts in the country with the highest number of new Covid cases.

Sohan Kumar, 45, along with his wife Nirmala and two children returned to Darbhanga by a train on Sunday. Kumar was a labourer in a leather factory in Mumbai.

It was the fear of lockdown again being imposed that forced him to return, Kumar conceded.

Bihar labour resource minister Jibesh Kumar acknowledged that the state government is aware of mass return of migrants from other states and cities especially those placed under night curfews  or other facing restrictions in view of rising corona cases.

Kumar said that arrangements were in place for testing of the returnees.

“If required, the government will reopen all the quarantine centres for those returning from Mumbai, Pune and other cities.”

East Central Railway chief spokesperson Rajesh Kumar confirmed that that Bihar-bound trains from Mumbai, Pune, and other cities are arriving with full occupancies.

“But we cannot confirm whether all those returning from other states are only workers or not.”

Meanwhile, the Central Railway has decided to run additional special trains from Mumbai and Pune to Bihar’s Darbhanga, Patna and Danapur as well as Gorakhpur in UP to clear the rush of passengers.

Back in Mumbai, Sanjay Nirpuam, former Congress city president, claimed over 15 to 20 migrant workers stay in a room.

“In lockdown, all establishments are closed. So how can 20 people stay back in a small room for the entire day? This will be fatal for them. So, they are leaving Mumbai. It will not only cripple the economy of Mumbai but badly affect workers too.”