Delhi’s 254 Metro stations are temporarily housing at least 2,500 Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel who have been shifted out of their barracks to decongest them and ensure social distancing in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. A few CISF personnel have also been asked to shift from their family accommodations.
These men, posted with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) Metro unit, now perform their duties, sleep, eat, spend their leisure time and bathe at these Metro stations. Senior officers say the move prevents them from the risk of exposure, from extra travel and minimises their chance of spreading the viral infection to each other or to their family members.
So far, 22 CISF personnel posted at the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) have been found coronavirus positive while more than 250 have been tested for the infection so far. Of them, around 120 have been kept in isolation, senior officials said. The CISF provides security to Metro stations across Delhi.
The decision to move the staff from the barracks was taken on Friday last week (8th May 2020) following a meeting of senior CISF officials.
A senior CISF officer, who wished not to be named, said there are 12,500 personnel in the DMRC unit. Roughly, around 50% of them live with their families in their own accommodations, about 10% live with family in accommodation provided by the force and the remaining 40% occupy the barracks, he said.
“The decision to move these men out of their barracks was not only important to ensure social distancing in their barracks, but also to prevent them from daily travel, which increases the risk of exposure to the virus. Because these men are reporting on duty despite the lockdown, they travel together in groups and we needed to sanitise their vehicles multiple times a day. Those living with families also get back home everyday after their duty hours, putting their loved ones at risk,” the officer said.
Senior commandant, CISF, Jitender Rana said that as these men are stationed at the Metro stations, it will minimise the risk of spreading the infection within the force.
“These men have been provided all basic essentials in the barracks. They will perform their duties and live within their respective Metro stations until Metro services resume. We get their food delivered. Their necessities are being taken care of,” Rana said.
Another officer, who requested anonymity, said every Metro station has 8-10 CISF personnel living there. A Metro station is a huge area and these people can easily maintain a safe distance among themselves. As they’re now stationed there, their duty will also not be hampered. Their distribution varies depending on the location and the size of the station.
“In areas that are highly secure, such as Rajiv Chowk, Race Course and Central Secretariat, we did not need much staff as Metro trains are currently not in operation. In the outskirts, we have deployed adequate staff,” the officer said.
Officers said that all those who have moved out so far are men below 55 years of age. “We have only shifted those who are young and healthy. Others, roughly around 1,500 to 2,000, are still living in the barracks. No woman personnel has so far been detected with the virus, neither has any of them been moved into isolation. All necessary measures to disinfect the barracks and other safety guidelines are being diligently followed,” the officer added.