Rahul Gandhi shoots himself in the foot on Shramik trains
In his latest attack on the central government, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged that the ‘anti-poor’ BJP government was making a profit during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reports Swarajyamag.
Expressing himself via the social media outlet Twitter, Gandhi accused the government of earning huge profits from running the Shramik special trains that were meant to ferry migrant labourers back to their home states amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
Rahul Gandhi tweeted (as translated from Hindi), “There are ‘clouds’ of disease, people are in deep troubles, this opportunity can be utilised - the anti-poor government is earning by turning a disaster into profit.”
Notably, Rahul Gandhi was referring to the data shared by Railways Ministry which had stated that the national carrier had earned revenue of Rs 429.90 crore through the fares of its Shramik Special trains till 9 July.
However, a PTI report quoted a senior ministry official as saying that railways spent much more than it earned through fares. It spent Rs 3,400 per passenger the Shramik Special trains, which amounts to Rs 2,142 crore for around 63 lakh migrant workers transported in total.
The Railways managed to recover only 15 per cent of the cost of operations from states and the rest 85 per cent was borne by the ministry. Moreover, the fares were not taken from passengers, rather were released from the state government.
“The average fare per person on Shramik Special trains is Rs 600. However, we have spent Rs 3,400 per passenger, amounting to a total of Rs 2,142 crore. And by carrying 63 lakh migrant workers home since May 1, we generated a revenue of Rs 429 crore," the official added.
As per a LiveMint report, among the states, the Gujarat government has alone paid Rs 102 crore to the Railways for ferrying more than 15 lakh stranded migrant workers. Maharashtra comes second with close to Rs 85 crore being paid to Railways for transporting 12 lakh workers in 844 trains. Tamil Nadu, followed to Western states, paid Rs 34 crore to ferry around four lakh migrant workers to their home states in 271 trains.
A Railway official stated: “What the Railways did during the pandemic was part of a united effort to contribute in the fight against the pandemic. It should not be seen in terms of profit and loss,” said the official.
On Thursday, the Railways said it had met all the demands of states with the last service being operated on July 9.
On July 9, the last two trains departed from the Chennai Central station -- one to Jodhpur with 1,449 passengers, and the other to Howrah with 1,620 passengers, officials said.
The Railways started Shramik Specials on May 1 to transport stranded migrant workers to their native states after thousands tried to reach home on foot due to the lockdown transport restrictions.
The Railways said it operated 4,109 Shramik trains in May, which came down to 493 in June, and 13 in July.
Most of these trains originated from Gujarat, followed by Maharashtra and were destined to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, officials said.
(NewsBred has quoted Swarajymag and LiveMint without any additional input).
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