All those members of the public waiting to board their beloved local trains, must wait until the end of the pandemic, Maharashtra Minister of Relief and Rehabilitation Vijay Wadettiwar said on Monday.
Currently, only essential and emergency service providers are being allowed to travel on trains. “General public will not be permitted to travel in Mumbai local trains till the Covid-19 crisis is over. After the virus infection in the city was contained, Mumbaikars are wandering freely. If the general public is allowed to commute by suburban trains, then there will be crowding and it may spread the virus,” said Wadettiwar.
Wadettiwar’s announcement comes on the heels of the warning from the covid task force that the third wave of the virus is likely to hit the state in the next two to four weeks. The task force has indicated that the number of active cases in this wave could possibly reach eight lakhs. It has strongly recommended that the state government enforce Covid-appropriate behaviour to combat the virus.
Wadettiwar’s statement is important as the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation has clearly said that Mumbai would continue to be at ‘Level 3’ of Covid-19 restrictions until June 27 even though the city’s positivity rate has dipped to 3.79 per cent and the oxygen bed occupancy is at 23.56 per cent.
Mumbai was eligible to be upgraded to Level 1 but the BMC decided to err on the side of caution and continue with Level 3 curbs to avoid crowding and the resultant spurt in infections. Importantly, considering the population density and geography of the city and the extensive use of local trains by the public and the warning about a possible third wave raised by the task force, it was decided to keep Mumbai at Level 3 of the phased unlock process.
BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal has suggested that entry on local trains may be started in phases, whereby women and certain categories of employees could be allowed in the first phase. Mayor Kishori Pednekar pointed out that the number of daily new cases was 500-600 and it had to further reduce.
“There has been zero growth rate in Dharavi, while in Worli on Sunday, there was only one patient detected positive. The spread of infection is controlled but the number of patients must decline further. Only then will the administration take a call on allowing the general public to travel in suburban trains," she noted.