Union Home Minister Amit Shah said lakhs of stranded migrant workers have been sent to their respective native states at the government's expense. He was speaking to Network18 group Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi.
When asked if the ongoing crisis, where migrants are seen walking to their homes, could have been averted if they were moved before enforcing the lockdown, Shah said, "That would not have been appropriate".
"It would have posed a huge problem on state governments. They did not have sufficient testing/quarantine facilities at that time. We wanted to first strengthen the healthcare system in states before sending migrant workers," he added.
The Union Home Minister said that nearly 55 lakh migrants have been sent to their native states via buses and trains arranged by the Centre. He added that most mogrants who were ferried by the government have now completed their quarantine period and started living with their families
"Special trains were started from May 1, but before that on April 20, the government started sending labourers from nearby areas to their states. 41 lakh laborers were sent by bus services. About 4,000 trains were run for migrants, however, some of the labourers lost patience and started walking towards their states so we took many people to the nearest railway station or their native district," Shah said.
He asserted that central government, led by PM Modi, and Indian Railways raised all the expenses and during this time, two crore people were fed food. Apart from this, the states were given Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 for the train tickets of these migrants.