From Restarting Indian Railways To Vande Bharat Mission, Here’s How India Is Going Home
At the time of writing this article, India has witnessed the largest jump in the number of positive Coronavirus cases, thereby taking the tally to a whopping 67152 with 2205 deaths, as per the Ministry of Health and Welfare. This is the case despite three phases of lockdown. And while the first two phases of lockdown and brought inter-state and international movement to a standstill, Lockdown 3.0 is witnessing a resurgence of the same largely from Indian Railways.
According to LiveMint, Indian Railways has announced that starting from Tuesday i.e. 12th May 2020, 15 pairs of trains will run each day. These trains will be categorised as ‘special trains’ that will transport people from New Delhi station to Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad, and Jammu Tawi. They’ll have a ‘few stoppages’. The trains scheduled to start this week will be air-conditioned while the fares will be similar to the Rajdhani Express fares.
Bookings for these special trains will begin from today i.e. 11th May 2020, at 4 PM via the IRCTC website or IRCTC mobile app. There’s no use trying the ticket booking counters at railway stations because they will be closed. I don’t think I have to tell you why. And there will be no provision of tatkal or premium tatkal accommodation. Only those with valid confirmed tickets will be allowed to enter the stations. No platforms tickets will be available. Passengers will have to wear face masks and undergo thorough screenings at the stations. So, if you’re planning to travel, arrive at the station an hour or two in advance so that you can be screened well before the train departs.
I think this is a no-brainer but only asymptomatic passengers or those not showing any symptoms of Coronavirus infection will be allowed to travel. There’s a good chance that blankets and linen won’t be given. Temperatures will be kept slightly higher and railways will ensure the maximum supply of only fresh air because recirculated air increases the chances of Coronavirus infection. Pantry services won’t be available.
Now, I am sure that you might be hearing about the plight of migrants trying to get across the country to their respective homes. You must’ve heard by now about the Aurangabad incident or where a migrant cycling 1000 kilometers home was run over by a car in Uttar Pradesh or where a migrant labourer from West Bengal, unable to return home, ended his life in Kerala or where migrant workers in Tamil Nadu were told that they can’t go back home. So, what is the Government doing for them via Indian Railways? Well, according to Hindustan Times, they are gearing up to run around 300 trains a day to ferry stranded migrants to their hometowns.
Shramik Special trains began on May 1 and are bound for a single destination without any stoppages. They have 24 coaches and each bogey is supposed to carry around 50 passengers instead of the usual 72, thereby taking the total number of passengers per train to around 1200. So, if Indian Railways is able to run 300 trains a day in the next four days, over a million stranded migrants will be able to return home. That said, the Shramik Special trains are being run only after the origin and destination states are confirming that they are sending and receiving the migrants, respectively.
And finally, there’s the Vande Bharat mission which is bringing Indian nationals from all over the world. According to NDTV, over 1500 Indians departed from their respective places on the fourth day of the mammoth operation which involves commercial passenger jets and Indian Navy warships. 363 Indians from Abu Dhabi and Dubai arrived in Kochi via Air India flights. Warship INS Jalashwa brought back 698 Indians from Maldives. Navy ship INS Magar brought back 200 people from Maldives to Male. 572 people landed at the Mumbai airport in two Air India flights, one from UK and another from Singapore. A third flight is supposed to come from Philippines carrying 241 people.
Due to the current rise in Coronavirus cases, it is tough to determine how much of this endeavour is fruitful because we are already failing to take care of those who are in this country. How are we going to deal with more coming from all across the world? Well, I sincerely hope that the Government and the people find a way instead of solely thinking about the status of our country’s economy.
Cover image source: Wikimedia Commons