Mumbai: Identifying people on essential duty a tough task

Only those on essential duties will be allowed in public transport and they need to carry a valid identity ID card. Yet there is no clarity on who will monitor the people and what will be the extant of checks. The Railway is claiming that it will be the state government’s responsibility to ensure that only those on essential duties will be on road who arrive at railway stations from their homes to board local trains; though they will only conduct special checks asking for valid identity cards.

The situation is that with rising number of Covid cases, there is not just fear but also little inclination as people have grown tired of the virus.

“There is no doubt there is a lack of clarity on ways to identify a person on essential duty. We will assume that if someone enters a railway station then he has been stopped by the police while on his/her way on road. We will only ask for his ID card,” said a senior railway official on condition of anonymity.

On Wednesday, the ticket checkers claimed that there were fewer people at stations and inside trains and people were wearing ID cards on their neck. They claim that they can only do random checks with no clear guidelines as who all should be allowed to travel in local trains as there are quite a number of categories stated to fall under the essential category.

“Many of our staffs have fallen ill from Covid-19. At each of the station, there are very few ticket checking staff available unlike regular schedule,” said a railway staff on condition of anonymity. In fact the Western Railway authorities have asked senior officers to be posted and monitor the crowds.

Unlike last year when a passenger claiming to be on essential duty, had to produce his office ID card but it was also backed by QR Code system as well. The railway authorities agree that this was a well-weaved system which could have gone a long way if properly implemented and continued. At present the railways are operating 2,900 plus services though the daily passenger count has dropped to 8 lakh or so.

Meanwhile the BEST authorities are also facing similar issues. “The primary focus would be to ensure that buses do not have standees at any given point of time. We will not be able to check ID cards everywhere as we are also operating conductor-less buses,” agreed a BEST official on condition of anonymity. The BEST operates close to 3000 buses daily of which 1100 buses are on wet-lease running without conductors.

Meanwhile there is no restriction to travel in auto rickshaws and taxis barring the number of passengers in them. Auto rickshaws can have only two passengers while taxis can ferry 50 percent of vehicle capacity.

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