Commuting problem: State wants school staff ‘back on track’

In a major relief to teachers, the state disaster management, relief and rehabilitation department has requested both Central (CR) and Western Railway (WR) authorities to allow teaching and non-teaching staff of all schools to commute by local train services in Mumbai.

Teachers who have questioned the need to commute to school considering the Covid-19 risks involved, had earlier requested the state government to allow them to commute by suburban trains.

This request has been made following the state government resolution (GR) dated October 29, 2020 stating 50 per cent attendance for teaching and non-teaching staff in all schools of Maharashtra. In a letter to the CR and WR authorities dated November 6, 2020, the state disaster management, relief and rehabilitation department said, "You are hereby requested to direct the concerned to allow teachers and non-teaching staff of schools to use local train services in Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan region (MMR) with immediate effect."

Teaching and non-teaching of schools are relieved with this request of the state government as they had earlier raised the issue of restrictions imposed on local train commuting. Ashok Sangle, a teacher said, "Men are not allowed to commute by local trains. It is difficult to commute to school without local train services. It is good to know that the state is taking some initiative." While, Meena Sawant, a non-teaching staff, said, "I cannot afford to commute by auto rickshaws and, BEST buses are too crowded. Local trains are the most feasible and economic mode of public transport."

In response to the letter of the state, railway authorities said they have received the request letter from the state government on Wednesday for allowing school teachers to travel in the special suburban services. But, the decision on it is yet to be taken. A railway official said, “A letter in this regard has been received and the decision will be taken by the concerned authorities and approval will be given as soon as possible."

The state school education department said the request has been made to ease the hassle of commuting for teaching and non-teaching staff as physical schools will reopen for Class 9 to 12 from November 23.

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