Representational image | ANI
Representational image | ANI
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New Delhi: The Modi government finally clarified Thursday that it is not paying for migrant labourers’ Shramik Express tickets, telling the Supreme Court that the bill is being footed by states.

The statement in court comes amid much confusion over who exactly is paying for the migrant labourers’ journey, with certain statements from the central government suggesting that it is bearing 85 per cent of the fare and states paying the remaining 15 per cent. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had also claimed earlier this month that the central government is paying 85 per cent of the fare. 

The central government’s clarification came as the Supreme Court, at a virtual hearing, took up a PIL on the problems being faced by migrant labourers stranded in different parts of the country amid the Covid-19 lockdown. 

In a statement to the court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the central government, said the fare for the special Shramik trains organised by the railways is paid either by the originating state or the receiving one. 

The migrant workers are not required to pay the fares, Mehta told a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S.K. Kaul and M.R. Shah.

When asked by the bench how it is ensured that the migrant workers are not harassed to pay for the tickets, Mehta said the states should file their respective reports in court. 


Also Read: ‘Lost’ trains, dead passengers — Railways blames ‘extraordinary times’ for Shramik train mess


‘No discrepancy’

The Shramik Express trains — special trains earmarked to carry migrant workers home from wherever they were stranded — were announced on 1 May, days before the central government extended the lockdown to its third phase.

Its initial run was marked by a furore over reports that the migrant labourers, hit hard by the lockdown, were being made to pay for the train journeys.

According to a notification issued by the railways on 2 May, the state governments were supposed to collect the ticket fare from the passengers and hand over the amount to the railways.

As the allegations also led to a political controversy, with opposition parties, particularly the Congress, attacking the Modi government on the issue, the central government said it is dividing “cost” on an 85 per cent-15 per cent basis with states.

Last week, addressing a press conference, Railway Board Chairman V.K. Yadav reiterated the claim

Explaining the discrepancy, a railways ministry officer said the central government had never said it is bearing 85 per cent of the cost of the tickets, but maintained that it is paying 85 of the cost of running the trains. Of this, the officer said, ticket fare comprises 15 per cent. 

“Running a train involves several costs…Ticket fare is just part of it,” the officer said. “What the government has told the court today is not at odds with what was said earlier.” 

ThePrint reached a spokesperson of the railways ministry for a comment through WhatsApp, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.

A senior officer from an opposition-ruled state said the back-and-forth on the issue was an “eyewash”.

“After maintaining for so long that they are bearing 85 per cent of the cost, at least today they have admitted that it is the states which are paying for the travel of the migrants.”

The Supreme Court Thursday ordered the central government and states not to charge either train fare or bus fee from migrant workers keen to go back to their native towns. 


Also Read: ‘Tears’ to tweets — why Piyush Goyal’s throwing everything he’s got to fight Shramik PR mess


 

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24 Comments Share Your Views

24 COMMENTS

  1. This is a well-meant and well-presented article, but the headline is – alas – utterly misleading! One only hopes this is a case of bad editing, and not a deliberate attempt to obfuscate facts or mislead.
    If, as the article itself establishes, the Government of India (‘Modi’s government :)) is indeed paying 85% of the cost of running a Shramik Express, surely it is perfectly reasonable for the GOI to state that it is paying 85% of the cost of sending a migrant home? Again, as the article makes clear, the remaining 15% of the cost of running the train usually comes from tickets; and in the case of the Shramik Express, this 15% is met by either receiving state or sending state.
    O Print Editor, please do proofread your own headlines!

  2. Hello,
    I am a regular reader of the print. But please don’t mislead your readers like this, this makes us question your credibility.
    Thanks

  3. Modiji ne 12 crore toh majdoor ko berozgar kiya par padhe likhe experience walo ko v kiya jiska data nikala jaye toh wo 15 crore se v jyada hoga. ache khase kamate gharo ko ujaad diya modiji ne…

  4. Bullshit govt policies they can write off crores of rupee for money mafia, & criminals & desh drohis but screws poor & labour ass. These govt will selling India by pieces wat more we can expect

  5. WHY SHOULD CENTRAL GOVT PAY IT??
    1. NO ONE CONTRIBUTED TO PM FUND FOR COVID19.
    2. PPL DONT PAY TAXES.
    3. GOVT IS GIVING PETROL ALREADY AT LOW RATES.
    4 NO ONE HAS GIVEN VOTE TO THE GOVT.
    FIRST YOU PROVE YOUR CITIZENSHIP THEN ASK FOR GOVT HELP…..#5TRILLIONeconomy

    • aU R right.The state government should bare the cost.How do we know these migrants are all Indian?There could some Bangladesh’s and Nepalis and so why should center pay for them.

  6. What is the break-up of the 85% cost being incurred by the centre?
    If one sees any railway ticket, it is mentioned as a standard disclaimer that the price any passenger is paying for the ticket covers only 57% of the cost incurred for the travel. This is under normal circumstances and for every ticket sold by railways. For the Shramik trains, only 2/3rd of the seats would be filled to ensure social distancing during travel. So the right seat and the left seat would be occupied with the middle seat being empty. Or the top birth and bottom birth would be assigned with the middle birth being empty. As such, due to this, the chargeable fees would come down to 38% (to the passenger, which is supposed to be paid by the state). The trains, since they are special trains, would come back completely empty, thus, the cost to passenger is further divided by half, which would be 19%. After taking into account passenger services like food and sanitation, the state governments were asked to pay 15% of the total cost with the remaining 85% being borne by the central government.

    A 15% cost has been imposed on the state government to ensure that the state government too has skin in the game. As such, if the travel was made completely free by Railways and the Central government, passengers other than migrant workers would have also been boarded on those trains and the result would be chaos like we saw in states like Maharashtra, during the protests near Bandra mosque or even the chaos at Anand Vihar bus station. It was because of this that the states were given the responsibility to come up with a list (after screening) of passengers and central railway is to provide tickets and trains. To impose responsibility, the Railways asked the states to cough up 15% of the travel cost while the central government would make good 85% of the travel cost.

    What did the SG says, based on whose statements, The Print lied
    The Solicitor General during the hearing answered a very specific question asked by the Bench.

    The question was regarding the FARE for the migrant workers, to which, the SG said that it was being paid by the states. The fare alone constitutes only 15% of the cost as even quoted by ThePrint. Hence, to use his statement to peddle a fake narrative reeks of an agenda.

    ThePrint should perhaps read and understand its own reports
    Let us post a riddle to Shekhar Gupta – who is President of Editors Guild and has a long and allegedly respectful career in journalism, bulk of which was in newspapers.

    A long-standing newspaper, like The Times of India, has 48 pages. The newspaper is sold for around Rs 5 and about 40 per cent is taken by distributors. The media organisation gets around Rs 2.40. Now each page costs Rs 0.25 to print and printing 48 pages costs Rs 12. A very conservative cost of paying employees and news agencies etc is Rs 3. So, if newspapers are produced at Rs 15, while the consumers pay just Rs 5, will it be logical to say that only consumers are paying for news? Obviously not. This information is, in fact, taken from a report published by ThePrint itself.

    Shekhar Gupta himself knows that advertisers pay and that the government also pays indirectly not only through ads, but through subsidised newsprints, etc. And if a newspaper is running into losses, essentially the promoters of the newspapers are “paying”. However, this logic, which is applicable to running newspapers goes for a toss when it comes to running trains, evidently. Then Shekhar Gupta’s website assumes that whatever is being paid as the final fare is the only price being paid to run a train, and whoever is paying that price is the only party paying. In the case of Shramik trains, the final price of the tickets are just 15% of total operational costs like the final price of the newspaper is just 33% of the total operational cost. Yet, Shekhar Gupta’s website dishonestly reports as if the final price is the only thing that matters.

    It is pertinent to note here that Shekhar Gupta’s ThePrint had categorically suggested that opposition parties spread fake news about the Modi government in order to counter the work done by them. It seems ThePrint led by Shekhar Gupta has gone a step further and taken up the mantle itself and is spreading fake news not just to discredit the Modi government but also give credence to lies spread by the opposition parties.

  7. Indian passenger trains are always subsidised by the government. saying that, there was a misunderstanding when centre said they are paying 85 percent cost. People meant it is the cost of the ticker. I would blame the government in this case.

  8. This govt at the centre has nothing to offer to the public except lies. This was the same solicitor general who told supreme court that there are no migrants on the streets. Lies,lies and lies that’s all this govt is.

  9. this has been a “govt of lies blatant lies and nothing but lies” whether it is economy, welfare, and scheme after scheme. they lie courts , they lie to the media, they lie to their own constituency and repeat them adopting fascist methods. go on repeating a lie for it to be taken as truth. disgusting

  10. So now it’s clear that Modi govt is not for migrant labourers, not for the poor; it is only for the rich, it is only for business people. It doesn’t matter for BJP if people die of hunger, strain, etc., it simply doesn’t care.

  11. Whilst, the Centre and states fight it out as to who should foot the bill, migrants suffer and die in their thousands.

    As the Kenyan proverb goes:

    “When elephants fight, grass suffers”

  12. An absolute shame. Mr. Piyush Goyal must explain why he and his ministry have been lying all the while, claiming that they were paying 85% of the ticket fare of the migrants.
    This reflects very poorly on him and his officers. Mr. Modi would do well to intervene and make sure that its the Centre which bears the cost. Besides, the Centre has not paid the states their due share of the GST taxes. How does it expect the states to incur additional expenses on this count?

  13. Looking forward to some posts on this article by our local friends from the IT Cell, eg. Shri Dev and others. Surely they must have some thoughts on anything which improves the lives of sons of this soil.

  14. If the land on which the tracks have been laid – mainly by the British – is valued at current market price, perhaps the railways are picking up 99% of the true cost.

    • Perhaps you shld consider cost of oxygen provided by nature or alternatives to pollination by bees.

      Railways are national asset and meant to work for poeople.

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