With public transport services resuming in the national capital yesterday, (Tuesday, 19th May 2020) the Centre is considering giving a nod to the Delhi Metro to restart operations before June 1. Top sources in the ministry of home affairs (MHA) said that Delhi Metro, which falls under the Union housing and urban affairs ministry, may be allowed to resume operations even before Lockdown 4.0 comes to an end on May 31.
The sources said the issue was discussed at a high-level meeting presided over by home minister Amit Shah and attended by top officials just before extension of lockdown was announced last week. It was discussed in the meeting that allowing Delhi Metro to resume services would be in the interest of the commuters at large.
The MHA is functioning as the nodal authority for facilitation, monitoring, follow up and taking corrective steps with regard to lockdown and COVID-19. It has been issuing guidelines after the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) announced the imposition of lockdown since March 25 and three consecutive extensions thereafter.
The sources said, “Initially the MHA had planned to resume Delhi Metro services on June 1. However, after evaluating the situation, the MHA is seriously considering advancing the date and issuing orders to resume services much before June 1.”
They said public buses, auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, private vehicles and two-wheelers have already resumed operations with restrictions. However, Metro is the safest among all modes of transport in the present scenario. It is manned by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and commuters have to go through strict checking.
The MHA feels that it is easier to regulate traffic in Metro than in any other mode of public transport. It has also been felt that since shops and offices – both government and private – have also reopened, though lesser in number, there would be a rush in public transport as they are operating under capacity.
Not more than 20 people at a time have been permitted inside the public buses. The passengers would be screened for body temperature before they enter. Autorickshaws, e-rickshaws and cycle rickshaws have been allowed to ferry only one passenger at a time. Grameen Sewa vehicles have also been allowed to ply but with a maximum of two persons at a time. People with private vehicles can commute in the city. However, cars cannot carry more than two persons inside at a time while pillion riders on two-wheelers are not permitted. Car pooling and sharing are also not allowed.
Meanwhile, Delhi Meto Rail Corporation (DMRC) is working out a detailed cleaning and maintenance procedure in view of the pandemic. In a tweet, it said, “The exercise will be extremely exhaustive as it involves 264 stations over 2200 coaches and over 1100 escalators and 1000 lifts. Protocol for social distancing and the likes are also being worked on.” DMRC is working out a detailed cleaning & maintenance procedure in view of the pandemic.
Red lines have been drawn at regular intervals large stickers bearing ‘Ensure Social Distancing’ message have been pasted at regular intervals on the seats and other areas to help the commuters. In a statement, DMRC said, “The decision to resume metro rail services in Delhi-NCR will be taken by the government after which the detailed protocol to be followed by passengers for travelling in the metro will be shared with the media and the public”.