As many as 238 stranded people, who were stranded in Gujarat due to the COVID-19 lockdown, arrived Tiruchi on Friday afternoon aboard a Shramik special train from Ahmedabad. The passengers, hailing from 10 districts in the central region, were guided to buses arranged by the district administration to drop the passengers at their home towns.
The special train departed from Ahmedabad around 11 p.m. on May 20 ferrying Tamil Nadu workers up to Tirunelveli. It arrived Tiruchi around 12.45 p.m. Of the 238 people who got down in Tiruchi, 43 were from Tiruchi district, 19 from Ariyalur, six from Perambalur, 35 from Karur, 36 from Thanjavur, four from Tiruvarur, 28 from Nagapattinam, 37 from Pudukottai, 11 from Mayiladuthurai and 12 from Namakkal districts. Six special buses were arranged to transport them to their respective towns.
The 43 travellers from Tiruchi district were taken to Sethurapatti Government College of Engineering where a special quarantine facility has been set up for people returning from other districts and States. Throat swabs were lifted from the travellers who will be quarantined for at least 14 days.
Speaking to The Hindu while waiting to board a bus to Thanjavur, S. Srinivasan said he went to Ahmedabad for a project at a construction company in January. “Though my employer took good care of us, I missed my family. I have a son and a daughter and I would look at them on video calls and long to see their faces. I’m so glad I will get to do so soon,” he said.
R. Sundar, a service engineer, and his three-member team, were sent to Gujarat in February and were stranded following the lockdown. The Gujarat Tamil Sangam has borne the expenses of their travel to the railway station and made all necessary arrangements, he said. “They even bought our tickets,” he said.
Some exhausted travellers said they would not return to work in Gujarat. “We were shocked to see the COVID-19 cases rising drastically. They were not following the lockdown norms there. We longed to come home and were afraid that we would contract the infection,” a woman with a four-year-old child in tow said . The most difficult part was ensuring that the child was safe. “We hope never to return there. It is better to work in one’s own place,” she added.