Amid the ongoing pandemic, the Central Railway is all set to run 194 Ganpati special trains following social distancing norms. However, the Maharashtra government is yet to give a nod, as the matter is under re-consideration.
On August 9 the Railway Board had instantly approved the running of special trains subject to following the Standard Operations Procedure (SOP) of Ministry of Home Affairs and Inter-District travel norms of the State Government of Maharashtra in the wake of Covid pandemic. But the state government has put the plan on hold August 8, 2020, Central Railway said in a statement.
“Central Railway wishes to inform the passengers that it is ready to run the specials, however, the final go ahead is yet to be confirmed by the state government of Maharashtra,” said a Railway official.
According to the zonal railway, a senior official of Maharashtra government through telephone asked to keep on hold the schedule of running of Ganapati special trains on August 8 night.
“Since then Railway administration both at board (Railway) board level and zonal level are in continuous touch with Maharashtra Government officials and have been awaiting to go ahead," he said.
According to the Central Railway on July 23, it had asked the State government their views about running Ganapati special trains for Konkan, the number and date from which to run these special trains.
It further said that the director of Maharashtra government's disaster management unit on August 7 informed that Ganapati special trains "may be scheduled in response to Central Railway’s letter".
The Central Railway said that accordingly, it immediately scheduled the special trains and sent it for the approval of Railway Board, which instantly approved the running of special trains subject to following the Standard Operations Procedure (SOP) of Ministry of Home Affairs and inter-district travel norms of the state government of Maharashtra in the wake of Covid pandemic on August 9, 2020.
Ganapati festival is one of the biggest festivals in Konkan and every year lakhs of devotees travel to Konkan on special trains, buses and private vehicles, a few days before the festival begins.
In view of Covid-19 and the extraordinary situation prevailing, this year the state government has made 10 days home quarantine mandatory for the devotees reaching to their villages in Konkan. Even Covid-19 tests are mandatory for all those who are going to the area after August 12, 2020.
The state government has already operated several Ganapati special buses of state owned Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, for the convenience of Ganapati devotees visiting Konkan.