This might come as a shocker but the local residents from Palghar and the railway association there have complained to the Western Railway authorities that relatives of Covid patients are coming to meet patients who are shifted to the Covid Coaches at Palghar station. A letter for the same has been sent to the WR authorities urging them to strengthen the security at Palghar railway station where Covid isolation coaches are parked.
On May 1, the WR authorities stabled a 21-car Covid Care isolation train at Palghar station on platforms 2-3. This has a bed capacity to cater to 336 patients. However, the letter was written by the Dahanu Vaitarna Pravasi Sevabhavi Sanstha on May 7, has detailed out flaws in the way arrangements have been made. They are demanding the installation of barricades or temporary structure at Palghar station and ensure proper security facilities for these isolation coaches.
‘We want to draw your attention towards the fact that patients in railway coaches’ setup at Palghar station are not following proper Covid norms. It has been observed that the coaches meant for isolation purposes of Covid patients are being visited by their relatives and family members. No social distancing and other Covid norms are being followed by the patients of the isolation coaches,’ reads the letter sent to Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), GVL Satyakumar of Western Railway.
What’s more shocking is the allegation that the Covid patients are taking a stroll on the platforms at a time when other passengers on essential duties are there on the platforms. The local activists from Palghar said that patients also come out from the Covid coach simply to get fresh air. This certainly is a cause of concern if the allegations made in the letter bore truth.
The platforms 2-3 form an island with tracks on either side. While on one side the Covid Care isolation coaches are placed and on the other local trains make a halt which is used by people on essential duties to board and alight. Moreover, the patients coming to these isolation coaches share the same foot over bridge that is used by common non-infected people on essential duties as well.
“There is a need for a temporary barricade to separate platform 3 where Covid isolation train is located, from platform 2 which is used by people on essential duties. This is the need of the hour and would help to curb the spread of the virus,” said a member of this passenger association. They are also demanding the deployment of security personnel especially to monitor these Covid coaches and take strict action against those who are violating the norms.
“Nodal officers are fixed to monitor the situation. There are only two Covid patients in these isolation coaches. No outsiders are allowed here and even healthcare workers wear full PPE kit and masks while visiting these Covid Care coaches,” said Sumit Thakur, Chief PRO, Western Railway.
At Palghar, the Covid coaches were made available from May 5, although these reached the station on May 1. The district administration wants coaches for 2,000 patients, 500 each in Dahanu, Palghar, Vasai and Boisar.