New Delhi: The Centre is mulling over operating point to point special trains for transporting those stranded in various parts of the country owing to nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the deadly novel Coronavirus.
The move follows serious logistic challenges being posed in transporting over 15 lakh people, including migrant labourers, students, pilgrims and others, via buses.
According to a government source, a meeting, held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had discussed this issue with the Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Railway Minister Piyush Goel to chalk out the plans to evacuate those stuck.
Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba was also present in the meeting, he added.
The final call will soon be taken by the Union Home Ministry, the source further said.
Several state governments, including Bihar, Punjab and Telangana, had asked the Centre to operate special trains as ‘bus journey’ as allowed by the Home Ministry, is time taking and suitable only for shorter distance.
The Railway Ministry is ready with plans to operate point to point trains in between two states with their consent, a Railway Ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
One-off special train with only general sleeper coaches from Lingampalli (Hyderabad) to Hatia in Jharkhand was chugged off at 0450 hrs on Friday on request of the Telangana Government as per the directions of Ministry of Railways. All necessary precautions such prior screening of passengers, maintaining social distancing at station and in the train has been followed.
This was only a One-off Special train and any further trains shall be planned only as per the directions of Ministry of Railways and on request from both the Originating and Destination State Governments, the Railway official added.
To maintain the physical distancing norm, the Railway Ministry is also considering to use those coaches which has been modified for isolation and quarantine purpose.
On April 29, the MHA had issued guidelines on inter-state transport of migrant workers and students. Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh governments have already started running buses from various states