India resumes travel; its survival of the fittest now

Special’ Train services have started today after 51 days. Tickets, that were only available online on the IRCTC official website got sold out in 10 minutes. The Railways laid many guidelines for the special trains such as - food and blankets to be brought by the passengers, no tickets available offline, passengers to reach 90 minutes before the scheduled departure of the train, and go through screening before boarding the train. 

 Despite the new guidelines and the glitch on the IRCTC website that delayed the booking option for two hours, Howrah-Delhi AC 1&3 got sold out in the first ten minutes followed by Bhubaneswar-Delhi train and others.  

 

On the one hand, this gives us a rough idea of the high no. of the stranded people and on another hand, it points towards the contradiction that the decision is towards the idea of social distancing. 

 

With such a huge crowd, who is to be held accountable for maintaining social distance during the journey. Indian Railway carried 25 million people per day before Covid-19.

 

 Even during the pandemic, tickets are sold out. In dense countries like ours, people need to take up responsibility during such situations. Both the Union Government and the Railways will be held responsible if the numbers show an increase due to the displacement of people. None has come forward yet to take up the responsibility.

 

Given that many COVID patients have been asymptotic, screening, masks, and even the guidance don’t seem enough. It will be an addition to the roles of state governments to monitor the whole situation. The decision to open railways by the Union government has been criticized by former Railway Minister and Bihar CM, Nitish Kumar as a ‘huge mistake’.

 

 States like Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal, and Telangana have been in favor of extending the lockdown. Many private airlines have also started bookings. These include Vistara, SpiceJet, and Indigo. 

 

Shramik specials are also running full with no social distancing. The initial idea of no booking for the middle berth is also not being followed. 

 

State governments are supposed to present blueprints but the high risk cannot be neglected. 

 

The ‘blueprints’ are not known to the public. After months of following the lockdown and social distancing lockdown, the decision is contradictory to what we have been doing. 

 

It should’ve have been done in numbers, avoiding such huge crowd like people were earlier asked to stay where they were. The consequences of the decision will be known in a few days but there is no way this push towards ‘normalcy’ isn’t putting the country at high stake with a huge displacement of the public. 

 

‘It’s better to be safe than to be sorry’ they say but the Government of India has decided quite the opposite with the Railway move.
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