Coronavirus: No metro rail services, interstate transport till March 31

Avishek G Dastidar

Areas of Hadapsar in MG road in Kondhwa wears a deserted look on Sunday following PM Modi's 'janata curfew' call. (Express photo by Ashish Kale)

On a day novel coronavirus infections soared to 370 and two more deaths linked to COVID-19 were reported from Mumbai and Bihar, the Centre on Sunday advised state governments to enforce a lockdown in the 75 districts that have reported such cases. However, essential services will be allowed to operate in the 75 districts.

The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister with chief secretaries of all the states. Janata curfew LIVE Updates

"The state governments were advised to issue appropriate orders to allow only essential services to operate in the 75 districts which have reported confirmed cases or casualties relating to COVID 19. The state governments may expand the list depending on their assessment of the situation. It was noted that several state governments have already issued orders in this regard," a government statement said.

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Mumbai suburban trains bore a deserted look on Sunday. (Express photo)

In the meeting, it was also decided to suspend non-essential passenger transport, including inter-state bus services, till March 31

Moreover, the Centre has also decided to close down metro rail services on all operational networks across the country till March 31.

"In view of current global pandemic of coronavirus, for containing its further spread through inter-personal proximity, it has been decided to close down metro rail services on all operational networks across the country till March 31," a government notification to MDs of metro companies said.

Also, the decision to stop inter-state public transport was taken because the government noted a trend of people, especially migrant labourers working in big cities, scrambling to take trains to go back to their villages in states in the East and other parts of the country.

Earlier in the day, the Railways announced suspension of all trains from March 22 till March 31. Only goods trains will be allowed to ply during this period.

Meanwhile, the West Bengal government put Kolkata under lockdown till March 31 to control COVID-19. The Punjab government also announced its decision to enforce lockdown in the entire state till March 31.

Rajasthan government had on Saturday night decided on a lockdown to contain the virus. The Odisha government had also on Saturday announced a "near-total" shutdown in five districts of Khurda, Ganjam, Cuttack, Kendrapara and Angul and in towns of Puri, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Balasore, Rourkela, Bhadrak, Jajpur Road and Jajpur. Bihar and Chandigarh have also followed suit.

The Railways alone transports 2.3 crore passengers every day in over 12,000 passenger trains. The Kolkata Metro and a skeletal service of local trains in Mumbai and elsewhere will be allowed to run post Sunday’s Janata Curfew before coming to halt completely at midnight.