An electrical draftsman from Mumbai has been running from pillar to post to get a railway pass despite getting jabbed twice. Wadala resident Hanif Bankar, was, until recently working in Qatar but was forced to return to Mumbai because of the recession there. He now needs a railway pass to look for a job in Mumbai. However, his vaccination certificate from Qatar has an 11-code while the Indian CoWin portal accepts only 10 digits. BMC officials claim that he needs to approach the ward office and get special permission for the railway pass.
Hanif Mohammed Yakub Bankar, 31, lives with his wife and parents in Wadala and had been working as an electrical draughtsman in a private firm in Qatar for the last 10 years. “With there being a recession across the country, I decided to return to Mumbai, quitting my job. Also, the pandemic has taught that being with one’s family is more important,” said Bankar.
Bankar took his first dose of vaccine on May 24 and his second dose on June 28, 2021, from the Hamad Medical Corporation in Qatar. Bankar resigned from his job to return to Mumbai on July 16, 2021. “I decided to settle down in Mumbai and began searching and applying for a job. Now, beginning afresh in Mumbai, I have to attend interviews with various firms. Instead of wasting time travelling in crowded buses and traffic, I decided to go by local train, as twice a week, I have to attend interviews. The state government announced traveling was allowed if citizens took two vaccine doses. However, when I approached the Wadala railway station, they denied me a pass, saying CoWin can only accept 10 digits, while my final vaccination certificate from Qatar has 11 digits,” he explained.
Railway officials suggested to Bankar that he visit the F/north ward office in Matunga. “When I visited the ward office, the official claimed only the CoWin portal could help generate the railway pass and they don’t have any system in the ward office. To get some clarity, I also visited the CSMT railway station, but the response was the same. If such is the situation, how is a common man supposed to travel, spending so much time and money. The BMC should come up with a solution,” added Bankar.
Hanif had also approached his local Congress corporator, Sufiyan Vanu from Ward No. 179 who said, “I have been approached by many such people, who are having trouble obtaining a railway pass. Around 15 days ago, I had a meeting with the ward officer who is the policy-maker. They claim CoWin doesn’t match the digits. In such special cases, after checking the documents it can be done but with approval from higher authorities. Not only railway passes, but those who have come from abroad having only taken their first dose, are not able to return as authorities have made the second dose mandatory to travel abroad. The vaccines they received abroad are not available in India. The authorities should consider all these issues and resolve them,” added Vanu.
Additional Municipal Commissioner (Health) Suresh Kakani said, “We need to update the app in such cases and are working on it. However, BMC will be issuing the guidelines to local ward offices to consider such cases by giving special attention. Citizens with such issues can approach the ward office. Meanwhile, we will also ask for thorough investigation of the authenticity of the vaccination certificate produced by the citizens,” Kakani added.
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