Written byShalini Ojha ·
The Union Government, late on Sunday, gave major relaxations related to inter and intra-state travel after announcing that the coronavirus-necessitated lockdown has been extended till May 31.
While allowing inter-state movement of buses/vehicles, the Centre left it on respective states to formulate a plan.
Movement of buses, cabs, auto-rickshaws were also permitted within the state but metro trains were ordered to remain shut.
In the third extension of the nationwide lockdown, Centre gave responsibility to states, letting them demarcate red, orange, and green zones. The state governments had demanded more authority in the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week.
Malls, gyms, swimming pools, airlines will remain suspended, but the government allowed stadiums to operate, albeit without any spectators.
Across India, COVID-19 took over 3,000 lives.
The decision pertaining to public transport comes as a huge relief for migrant workers, who have spent almost two months in stress. When all modes of transportation were shut on March 25, jobless laborers started walking home, covering thousands of kilometers on foot.
To reach home, migrant workers hitched rides on overloaded trucks, risking their lives.
From May 1, Centre ran Shramik special trains.
On the Centre's decision, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said this was one of the suggestions which the Aam Aadmi Party government submitted.
He said the National Capital is prepared to operate public transport, with precautions.
"I have had a detailed meeting with the top government officials and transport infrastructure experts to discuss a standard operation procedure (SOP) for safe operations," Gahlot told HT.
Notably, Delhi's detailed guidelines will be out today.
A DTC official said, "We are waiting for a final order from the state government, but buses are all set to be allowed to ply with not more than 20 passengers at a time. There will also be marshals deployed at the entry and exit of buses to ensure that there is no crowding inside buses."
Neighboring Punjab also plans to give more travel relaxations to citizens. According to The Tribune, Captain Amarinder Singh's government has let taxis, four-wheelers, and cab aggregators to run with two passengers, excluding the driver.
Rickshaws and auto-rickshaws can have two passengers, barring the driver. On two-wheelers and bicycles, only one pillion rider will be allowed.
Inter-state travel was permitted from Punjab's end.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation is also ready to hit the roads, once clearer directives from the state government are released.
KSRTC Mysuru Rural Divisional Controller R. Ashok Kumar said a maximum of 30 passengers will be allowed per bus.
There will also be only one entry/exit point, passengers will be asked to wear masks and use hand sanitizers, and will be screened.
Welcoming the Centre's decision, the Delhi Taxi Tourist Transporters' Association said a mechanism where a passenger has to provide a health certificate before boarding the cab must be also thought upon.
"The health of the drivers is also at stake," said Sanjay Samrat, a functionary of the body.
The relaxations related to travel will, however, not be extended to red zones.
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