Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, while condoling the tragic Auraiya road accident that killed 24 migrant workers on Saturday, said migrant workers have been compelled to walk back to their native villages because the state governments first raised their expectations by telling them that they will be ferried back in buses, but failed to deliver this.

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat was speaking at E-Agenda Aaj Tak.

“States were given permission to ferry people in buses but they [states] could not fulfil their commitment because the number of people was huge,” Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said.

He said instructions were issued to start train operations to ferry the migrant workers to their hometowns, but some state governments were not able to take quick action. Because of this, the frustrated migrants were forced to walk down, he said.

On the movement of migrants, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said it can be controlled and brought down drastically within 48 hours if all states agree to cooperate and work together.

“Government started rail service for migrants. Sufficient money was also given to the states for migrant workers. But, some states did not take effective steps for them. Some state governments are not cooperating with Centre,” Shekhawat said.

He said states like Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and West Bengal have given permission to fewer trains to ferry migrant labourers back, while, 500 trains were allowed by the Uttar Pradesh government.

“Similarly, Bihar started slow, but now permission has been given to 300 trains. Rajasthan has so far taken 16 trains, Maharashtra four, while West Bengal has used only 6-7 trains,” he said.

Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who was also speaking at the same E-Agenda Aaj Tak session, hit out at the Congress over the issue of farmers and said that the party is “used to lying”.

Narendra Singh Tomar said that so far 275 lakh tonnes of wheat has been purchased from farmers, while more than 60 tonnes of paddy has been bought from them.

“This time the harvest has been good. The entire crop has been purchased. The farmers are very happy with the good yield. However, everyone has to face the inconvenience caused by the lockdown. But our farmers are fighting the Covid-19 crisis like warriors,” Narendra Singh Tomar said.

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