After a wait that lasted nearly two months, the first Shramik Special train carrying 1,463 migrant workers and their family members left for West Bengal from Kottayam on Monday.
As the train departed from the station here by 6.30 p.m, many passengers raised a cheer, relieved at being able to go to their homes after being stranded in the camps here for long. The New Cooch Behar-bound train, carried labourers hailing from Malda, Murshidabad and Uttar Dinapur districts of West Bengal.
Of the passengers, 1,180 persons were selected from the labour camps at Payippad while the rest were from the camps at Kottayam and Meenachil Taluks.
The passengers had been transported from their camps to the Kottayam Railway station on 43 KSRTC buses.
As many as 17,392 migrant workers had registered with the district administration for returning to their home States. Though the preliminary list had also included 1,400 workers from Payippad, some backed out in view of the reopening of the local labour market.
Earlier, a team of officials led by Jinu Punnoose, Changanassery Tehsildar, had met the workers at Payippad and coordinated the arrangements for their return. Officials were deployed to monitor their local transportation in line with the social-distancing norms.
Prior to boarding the train, the passengers were also subjected to temperature-screening at the Nagampadam Bus station.
The Labour Department provided face masks for the passengers.
Food and water
According to District Collector P.K. Sudheer Babu, arrangements were also made to ensure food and drinking water for the passengers on board with contributions from the the Amal Jyothi Engineering College in Kanjirappally and the Malanad Development Society.
The drinking water for the passengers was arranged by the Kottayam District Administration.
3 more trains
Meanwhile, the authorities are likely to operate three more trains including one to Uttar Pradesh on May 21 and two to West Bengal on May 26 and June 8.
Though the authorities had completed the proceedings to ferry the migrant workers much earlier, the process hit a blockade after the destination States did not respond in a time bound manner.