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Government plans round-the-clock surveillance to avoid crowding at Metro stations, will ‘name and shame’ violators

Metro rail services across India, except for Maharashtra, will resume in phases from Monday (September 7) and will become fully operational by September 12 amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.

The government has warned of taking strict action against those violating social distancing norms, including “naming and shaming” of Metro rail passengers.

Union Ministry for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Puri on Wednesday had said instructions have been given not to stop trains at those stations, where Metro rail passengers are seen violating social distancing norms. He said the government might be forced to review the decision of operating Metro rail services, if it found crowding at stations.

“We will name and shame those violating norms of social distancing and those not wearing masks at Metro rail stations…If there is wilful disregard, you have CCTVs (closed-circuit TVs), there will be no hesitation (in acting against these violators). When a person misbehaves in an aircraft, we put them in a no flyers’ list … I think there is also an element of naming and shaming. If an individual’s misbehaviour results in jeopardising a public utility which is vital in the life of a city or a country, obviously there is little tolerance for such behaviour,” Puri had said on Wednesday

The Centre on Wednesday had issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the resumption of Metro services under the unlock 4.0 guidelines in a bid to revive the economy that has been battered by the viral outbreak since end-March.

The resumption of Metro rail services will significantly increase public transport capacity across India, and especially Delhi, despite a surge in Covid-19 cases in the past few days.

“There will be marking at Metro stations for maintaining social distance and also on seats in trains. Passengers must ensure that they adhere to the rules. We will monitor each and every location through video cameras from our control rooms. If these norms are violated or crowding takes place, trains will not stop at those stations. This is part of the SOPs,” said Durga Shanker Mishra, secretary, ministry of housing and urban affairs.

Puri said that the entry points at stations would be monitored by the Metro rail authorities to keep a tab on the number of passengers.

“If the number of passengers entering stations is more than what we can manage, we will certainly restrict their entry,” said Mangu Singh, chief, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

Puri said the government has taken the decision to resume Metro rail services in a concerted bid to kick-start economic activity.

“I am appealing through the media to all the consumers that while we welcome the resumption of Metro rail services, a decision which was been taken after very careful and deep consideration, the buzz word is ‘caution’ and ‘care’…resumption of economic activity is imperative, but it has to be done in a careful and calibrated manner,” said the minister.

“We need the cooperation of the commuters to ensure that all the norms are being followed. We are going ahead with our eyes and ears open and will be carefully monitoring it. I hope we don’t have to revisit our decision. Emphasis has to be on review and caution. We are clear in our minds that this opening up in a graded and calibrated manner will need to be reviewed. If we find that the resumption of operations is not resulting in social distancing norms at Metro stations or if there is crowding or trains are getting congested…we might have no option but to review all these arrangements,” he added.

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