Bengal govt writes to Union home secy, seeks resumption of limited metro services

Kolkata, Jun 30 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha on Tuesday urged the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla to allow resumption of limited metro rail services in Kolkata to facilitate movement of essential service workers.

In a letter to Bhalla, Sinha said people are largely dependent on bus services, which are infrequent and sometimes also inconvenient given the rush of passengers.

'I am approaching you with a request to kindly get the MHA consent for relaxing norms for Kolkata, and allowing a bare minimum number of Metro trains to operate, just to carry personnel (engaged in essential services) as a very special case.

'We had a meeting with local Metro authorities, and with certain restrictions, we will be able to ensure that this facility is availed only for providing essential services to the citizens. This will also help us manage physical distance norms better,' the chief secretary said.

Claiming that there is a conveyance crisis in the city as several buses continue to stay off the roads, Sinha said the state government was finding it hard to 'cope with the tremendous pressure on the transport system for intra-city movement'.

'Although the number of daily passengers is comparatively lesser, the absence of Metro services has thrust the entire load on bus transport, supplemented by private taxis and app cabs. That, however, is not enough, given the requirement,' he said.

Essential service workers like health workers, police personnel, municipal staff and power sector employees are the worst affected, he added.

Sinha said, 'Kolkata Metro Railway transports at least 6-7 lakh passengers daily, while the buses carry 10-12 lakh passengers every day. We have pressed 1,500 government buses into service in the city, as against 88 that used to run under normal circumstances. However, the private sector is running just 2,500 buses as against 6,000 (before the pandemic).

'We have introduced staggered timings, reduced daily attendances in government offices to 33 per cent, and made appeal to private sectors to undertake similar measures. Even then, we are not being able to cope with the tremendous pressure on the transport system for intra-city movement,' he said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on Monday urged the Kolkata Metro Railway authorities to resume operations in a 'limited manner' at the earliest.

However, the metro authorities, during a meeting with state government officials, said services could resume only after the railway ministry issues necessary instructions, following clearance from the ministry of home affairs. PTI SCH RMS DIV DIV