There seems no seriousness among “maskless” people travelling on local trains despite the threat of Covid-19 still looming large. The authorities have caught more than 1,200 passengers without masks and have collected fines of nearly Rs 2 lakh. The most common reason that the ticket checking staff have come across is: “Mujhe Corona nahi hua hai (I am not infected by Corona virus)”. The Central and Western Railway authorities have been conducting frequent drives to catch those who aren’t wearing masks inside railway station premises and while traveling on local trains.
For instance, the Central Railway (CR) authorities have caught 800 people between April 17 to May 13 from whom fines of Rs 1.50 lakh have been recovered. “We have distributed at least 300 masks to these people who are caught without wearing masks,” said Shivaji Sutar, Chief PRO, Central Railway.
The ticket checking staff working at railway stations and patrolling inside the local trains claim that most of the people caught arrogantly respond when asked to mask up. “These people bluntly reply that they are not infected by Covid 19 and that they are keeping distance from other fellow passengers. Some claim that they feel breathlessness if worn for long duration,” said a ticket checking staff on condition of anonymity.
Likewise, the Western Railway too has been catching people on essential duties and collecting fines from them. “From April 17 to 30, there have been 255 cases of catching people for not wearing masks from whom fines to the tune of Rs 54300 was recovered,” said a Western Railway official.
From May 1-12, another 177 people were fined Rs 35400 for not wearing masks. When caught, the ticket checking staff levies a fine of Rs 200 each and they even handover a mask to them. In 26 days, the WR authorities caught 432 people and collected Rs 89,700 as fine.
At present, the railway authorities are operating fewer trains. The TCs are also checking ID cards and tickets to ensure only genuine people on essential duties are plying. However, the authorities agree that there are cases found where people with fake ID cards travel on locals. A few offenders were caught.
Surprisingly, there are hawkers too who easily enter station premises and even travel on local trains selling wares. The CR for instance took a one-week drive from May 6-12 on Thane-Kalyan section in which they detected 13 hawkers from whom fines of Rs 3,500 were collected and they also sent two of them for prosecution.