More than one crore migrant workers returned to their home states on foot during the COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown, the government said on Tuesday, September 22.
"COVID-19 has resulted in the migration of a large number of workers from destination states to the home-states," Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways V K Singh told Lok Sabha in a written reply.
He informed the Parliament that around 1.06 crore migrants left their cities of work and returned to their home states.
According to the official data, 63.19 lakh passengers travelled to their home states in 4,621 Shramik Special trains between May and August, the Railway Ministry told the Parliament.
Notably, even when the Shramik Special services were being run to ferry the workers, many migrant labourers were seen travelling on foot or taking rides in commercial trucks to reach their destinations, mostly to the states including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Migrants were frequently seen walking along highways in groups, carrying their belongings, during the nationwide lockdown. Such incidents were reported from across the country especially before the special train services were started on May 1.
The Road Transport and Highways Ministry, however, said that it did not maintain any specific data on how many migrants died in road accidents during the lockdown.
As per figures available, there were a total of 29,415 deaths in 81,385 road accidents between March and June this year.
"However, this Ministry does not maintain separate data in respect of migrant workers who have died in road accidents during the lockdown," Singh said in his written reply to questions asked by Congress MPs Dean Kuriakose, D K Suresh and Mohammad Jawed.
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