Hyderabad: During prime minister Narendra Modi's six-hour videoconference with chief ministers, the firmest suggestion came from the Telangana chief minister: Don't run trains.
The Railways on Monday began running trains to clear the rush of migrant workers wanting to go home while the cities cope with the coronavirus breakout.
Chandrashekar Rao pointed out that a majority of Covid-19 cases were being detected in big cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. Running passenger trains now would only spread the infection and make containment more difficult.
“It will be difficult to monitor passengers travelling by train. Neither are we equipped to conduct tests on everyone nor can we keep them in quarantine facilities. It will be better if the Centre decides against operating passenger trains for now,” the chief minister said.
He reiterated his demand for rescheduling of loans taken by the state governments, increasing the FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) limit and also facilitating transport of migrant workers to return to their home states.
Chandrasekhar Rao explained how revenues have plunged due to the pandemic, leaving the state governments in no position to service their debt. He made a case for rescheduling states' debt and sought an increase in the FRBM limit which would allow states to borrow more.
Chandrashekar Rao urged the prime minister to declare districts that do not have positive or active cases as green or orange zones, allowing the states to restore normalcy in such districts and the Centre to change the zones as per requests from the respective state governments without any delay.
He said efforts were underway to manufacture a vaccine for Covid-19 and several Hyderabad-based companies were making good progress in this direction. The chief minister said he was optimistic that the vaccine would be developed by July or August in India, most probably in Hyderabad.
He felt that the current situation in the country would change only after a vaccine is made available to the people. All states should be sympathetic and humane towards migrant workers, he said, because “migrant labourers left their families in their native places to work in faraway locations for a livelihood. Under these trying times, they will definitely want to visit their families. If we allow them to travel to their native places, they will meet their families and return to work peacefully, failing which, there will be unrest.”
Appreciating the Centre’s decision to operate Shramik Special trains for transportation of migrant labourers, the chief minister said that the Telangana government was making travel arrangements for workers after taking all precautions. He told the Prime Minister that workers from Bihar who visited their families had returned to Telangana state to work in the rice mills....