Despite promises by the Centre and Karnataka government, migrant labourers were made to pay Rs 1,050 each while boarding a Shramil Special train from Bengaluru to their respective homes in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The ticket price included the charges for the BMTC buses that took the labourers from the campsite to the railway station.
A fresh set of Shramik trains started on Friday to ferry migrant labourers from Bengaluru to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Three trains from Karnataka with 1,200 passengers each started the journey on Friday.
Even though the state had promised to bear the costs of the ticket, every labourer had to pay Rs 1,050 to travel on the train.
A source in BMTC department said, “We have been asked to collect Rs 140 for BMTC and Rs 910 on behalf of Railway. BMTC has already paid the railway in advance and hence we are collecting Rs 1,050 as an overall charge.”
A minister in the state government, however, said the labourers should not have been asked to pay.
“The state government and the centre were supposed to bear the costs of these tickets. I’ll speak to Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and the finance department and sort it out,” said State Minister Suresh Kumar.
Earlier, the Karnataka government had come under attack for halting the Shramik train service. The decision had forced thousands of labourers on Wednesday and Thursday to walk from Bengaluru towards Jharkhand, Bihar and UP as there were no trains available. After pressure from Opposition and civil society, the Karnataka government went back on its decision and started the train services again.
The Shramik Special trains will operate every day between May 8 and 15. Each train will carry 1200 passengers and food and water will be provided by the railways.