Bhubaneswar: The first ‘Shramik Special’ train to Odisha carrying around 1,150 migrant workers stranded in Kerala due to the lockdown arrived in Ganjam district on Sunday, officials said.
The train had left Ernakulam railway station on Friday evening and arrived at Jagannathpur railway station in Ganjam district in the morning. It further proceeded to Khurda Road railway station, where it terminated, they said.
Over 500 passengers, including women and children, alighted at Jagannathpur while the remaining got down at Khurda Road, the officials said.
The passengers were screened and given certification for the journey before boarding the train in Kerala, they said.
Those alighting at Jagannathpur railway station were sent to their home districts of Kandhamal, Ganjam, Rayagada, Boudh, Nabarangpur and Koraput, the officials said.
Steps were taken to ensure that the workers strictly observed social distancing norms after their arrival at the railway stations, they said, adding all workers were wearing masks.
The workers were received by government officials. They were given food packets and stamped with indelible ink on their right hands to highlight that they had returned from another state before boarding special buses for quarantine centres, the officials said.
The travellers, who had registered themselves with the state government’s portal, hail from 23 of Odisha’s 30 districts.
The highest number of those who returned are from Kandhamal district (382), followed by 283 from Kendrapara and 130 from Ganjam.
The public and journalists were not allowed inside railway stations at the time of their arrival to avoid any health risk, an official said.
The state government has made similar arrangements for the return of more migrant workers stranded in Kerala and Gujarat, he said.
These trains will halt at stipulated railway stations, from where the migrants will go to their villages along with respective panchayat officials and will be placed under quarantine for 14 days, the official said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik thanked his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan for taking good care of the stranded people during the lockdown and cooperating with the Odisha government to ensure their safe return.
Patnaik also commended the role of the Ganjam district administration and police for the smooth handling of the workers at Jagannathpur railway station.
He thanked different government departments for “meticulous planning and precision” in completing the first leg of ‘Operation Subha Yatra’, the state administration’s endeavour to facilitate the return of stranded migrant workers.