Facing public anger over the death of a few passengers travelling in Shramik Special trains, Railway Board Chairman V.K. Yadav on Friday said that "some people have died during the train journeys and Railways is gathering details". Addressing a press conference here, Yadav however said that doctors can tell exactly whether the deaths were due to hunger or any disease.
"It would be insensitive to say, without any investigation, that these deaths were on account of starvation," Yadav said.
The railways has faced criticism after a video of a toddler trying to wake up his dead mother at Bihar's Muzaffarpur railway station on May 25 went viral on social media.
Yadav said that states have been provided with as many trains as they demanded. "On Thursday only, we ran 137 trains for migrant workers across the country," he said.
"Slowly, it seems like the demand (for Shramik trains) from originating states is coming down," Yadav said, adding that as of last week, originating states had indicated a demand for 923 such trains, which had come down to 449 trains as of Thursday.
"These trains, however, will continue to operate as long as all migrants are not sent back to their home states," he said.
As for passengers snatching packets of snacks at railway stations, Yadav said: "The incidents of migrants getting into scuffles for food on these trains have happened only in two to three per cent of these trains. We are monitoring each and every train for water and food supply."
Yadav said that railways is trying its best to make trains available at very short notice from state governments.
"In this difficult phase, railways is trying its best. As many as 12 lakh railway employees are working to make every train reach its destination on time," the Board Chairman said.
He said that railways is charging only 15 per cent of the operation cost of these special trains as passenger fares from states and asserted that if railways ran these trains for free, it would become "difficult to manage them".