BS Yeddyurappa government on Sunday, May 3, announced free travel in state buses for migrant workers stranded in the state due to lockdown and are willing to reach their native places within the state. The service would be available for the next three days starting today (Sunday), according to reports.
This comes as a great relief for thousands of migrant workers who were left in limbo since the lockdown was announced on March 25 giving virtually no time for thousands of people to plan back their commute, including migrant workers.
CMO issues statement
The announcement to the same effect came via a statement from Karnatak Chief Minister's Office (CMO).
"Workers and poor wage labourers have been allowed to travel in KSRTC buses free of charge from district centres and capital city Bengaluru to their hometowns in Karnataka for three days from today (Sunday)," a statement from the Karnataka Chief Minister's Office (CMO) read.
Click here for coronavirus related stories
To the delight of migrant workers assembled at Bengaluru's Kempegowda bus station (Majestic), the announcement was made via loudspeakers at the terminal. However, all the precautions and norms related to social distancing to curb the spread of the virus was seen missing as scores of migrant workers rushed to the terminal to catch state buses to reach their native places.
Inflated fare rolled back
Earlier, on Saturday, the state government had decided to charge one-way fare from the migrant workers in return to transport them to their homes in rural parts of the state. However, the proposed fare for trip was way higher than the regular fare. The state transportation reasoned it on transporting 30 passengers in 60-seat capacity buses to enable physical distancing.
"Only one-way fare will be collected and not two-way fare. Earlier, the bus transport facility was considered as a contract carriage since only 30 passengers were being allowed. It has now been decided to collect only one-way fare and the labour department will bear the remaining cost," Karnataka Education Minister Suresh Kumar said.
However, after receiving criticism for charging inflated fare from the migrant worker, the state government decided to altogether drop the fare for carrying the passengers to their native places.
According to labourers who attempted to catch the bus yesterday and earlier, the inflated charges was four times higher than the normal fare. For instance, for a 500-km trip to Bagalkot district in north Karnataka, KSRTC demanded around Rs 1,300 from each passenger. The regular fare for the same route is Rs 300.