Modi govt. in Supreme Court clarified it’s not paying for migrants’ travel fares…
As reported in ThePrint, the Central government cleared out in front of the three-bench headed by Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah in Supreme Court (SC) that it wasn’t paying for the railway fare of the migrants traveling through Shramik Express and that state governments have been paying the respective ticket fares. The Centre on Thursday clarified the same to the SC during a virtual hearing vis-à-vis a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the problems migrants across the country have been facing due to COVID-19 lockdown.
Earlier the Centre had said it would pay 85% of the total railway fare and the state government would bear the remaining 15% of the cost. National BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had earlier this month claimed that the Centre has been paying 85% of the railway fare for the migrants. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented the Centre, in his statement to the SC clarified that either the state that sent migrants or received the migrants have paid for the rail fares.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi had earlier criticised the Centre and Railways for completely ignoring the Congress party’s demands that migrants should be made to travel free of cost to their homes. The day Congress announced to bear the entire travel cost of the migrants, Centre announced the 85:15 percent formula of cost sharing of tickets between the Centre and the concerned states.
As per ThePrint, a senior officer from an opposition-ruled state who said the back-and-forth on the issue was an ‘eyewash,’ stated, “After maintaining for so long that they (Centre) are bearing 85 per cent of the cost, at least today they have admitted that it is the states, which are paying for the travel of the migrants.”
ThePrint had reported, “Explaining the discrepancy, a railways ministry officer said the central government had never said it is bearing 85 per cent of the cost of the tickets, but maintained that it is paying 85 of the cost of running the trains. The ticket fare comprises 15 per cent. Running a train involves several costs. Ticket fare is just part of it. What the government has told the court today is not at odds with what was said earlier.”