Mumbai: The Palghar district on Saturday got its first set of 21 isolation Covid coaches that has the capacity to cater to around 330 patients. This comes at a time when the Indian Railways have converted 4176 coaches for Covid care across India. However, the larger issue is that the number of coaches being made available and currently used by respective state governments in taking care of patients is skewed.
At present, the Indian Railways has provided 161 coaches to different states and cities that have a capacity of 2538 beds but currently utilised to treat only 123 Covid patients.
Meanwhile, at Palghar, the Covid coaches will be made available from May 5 by when the local state government authorities will make arrangements for medical staff.
The local rail passenger associations and politicians echoed the need for Covid care coaches at Palghar district owing to the rise in number of cases. They approached the MLAs and MP and also the Railway ministry demanding the need for these Covid care coaches. Later also wrote a letter to the Western Railway authorities who asked them that local government authorities should write a letter demanding the same and sign an MoU.
Prathamesh Prabhutendulkar of Dahanu Vaitarna Pravasi Sevabhavi Sanstha said, “We demanded these Covid coaches as resources were available and it could cater the needy”.
The WR authorities inspected the site at Palghar railway station on Friday and then brought these 21 Covid Care Coaches on Saturday with each having 16 beds capacity. Divisional Railway Manager GVL Satyakumar visited Palghar station on Friday night along with state officials to assess the conditions. The district administration wants coaches for 2,000 patients, 500 each in Dahanu, Palghar, Vasai and Boisar.
The railway authorities claim that they are providing to as many states as possible from where demands are pouring in. The Indian Railways have readied themselves to provide 51 coaches with 816 beds for Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.
“Today itself we got demand from Nagaland for 10 coaches with 160-bed capacity. Apart from these beds, we are also moving oxygen tankers in wagons for which routes are thoroughly mapped,” said Chairman of Railway Board and CEO, Suneet Sharma.
The first Oxygen Express reached Nashik on April 22 and since then the Indian Railways have operated 25 Oxygen Express trains in which they have ferried 56 tankers with 813 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen. As oxygen is cryogenic and hazardous chemical, Railways have to avoid sudden acceleration, deceleration, have to check pressures in between, especially when it is in loaded condition.