Bengal Govt. asks Center to Make an Exception for Kolkata Metro and Allow Minimum Metro Services

The West Bengal Chief Secretary wrote a letter to the Union Home Secretary yesterday (Tuesday, 30th June 2020) requesting “a bare minimum number of” Metro trains for essential service providers in Kolkata.

“I approach you with a request to kindly give MHA’s consent for relaxing the norms for Kolkata for running a bare minimum number of Metro rail just to carry these personnel as a very special case,” the letter from Rajiva Sinha to Ajay Bhalla reads.

“We had a meeting with local Metro authorities and with certain measures… we will be able to ensure that this facility is availed only for meeting needs for providing essential services to the citizens.”

The Union home ministry had issued a set of guidelines on Monday night, listing Metro among activities that would not be allowed throughout the coountry. The guidelines came hours after chief minister Mamata Banerjee said her government would talk to Indian Railways for partial resumption of services, following a meeting between officials of the Bengal administration and Calcutta Metro.

At a news conference at Nabanna yesterday (Tuesday, 30th June 2020) Mamata said: “The chief secretary has written a letter to the (Union) home secretary…. Crores of people commute in Calcutta where like buses, Metro is one the main transport service providers. Keeping the Metro entirely suspended is creating problems in the movement of essential service providers. 

“Till now, we have got as many government buses on the road as we could. We are now requesting Metro to run with limited capacity. Even partial resumption of services at least for those who provide essential services will be of help. If a section of people can avail themselves of Metro trains, we can accommodate the rest on government buses.” 

Sinha’s letter said Metro ferried “6-7 lakh” passengers daily compared with “10-12 lakh” passengers ferried by buses. The letter described the existing transport options as “too meagre as against the requirement”.

Despite having reduced government office attendance to 33 per cent, the government was “not able to cope up with the tremendous pressure on the transport system for intra-city movement,” said the letter. People associated with essential services were the worst sufferers, it added.

Metro Railway sources said they would start working on the “standard operating procedures” once a nod to start services came from the Centre.

“We are no averse to resuming limited services but will require instructions from the Ministry of Railways, MHA and Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. We have made it very clear to the state government that normal services can’t be resumed at the moment. However, we are ready to discuss the possibility of limited services for smart card holders who are engaged in emergency services with the state, once clearance arrives from the Centre. As of now, we have launched a scheme through which smart card users may top-up their cards,” Metro Railway CPRO Indrani Banerjee said.

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