By Sahil Pandey
New Delhi [India], November 18 (ANI): On the auspicious occasion of the Chhath festival, Indian Railways has gone the extra mile to ensure the utmost convenience of the passengers amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
In order to maintain the highest degree of safety protocols amidst the health crisis, only those passengers who have confirmed tickets are allowed to enter the waiting room arrangement made outside the station (Pandal), the seating arrangements are made following social distancing norms and all are required to wear masks.
A special helpdesk has been also provided at the Anand Vihar Railway Station for passengers and a special arrangement has been made for women commuters for their afety. The Railways has also stationed doctors to tackle any medical contingency among passengers.
Basic amenities like clean toilets, TV screens have been installed that will display Chatt programs, special announcements are being made for the pilgrims for arrival and departure of special trains.
34-year-old Nilesh Mishra who has come all the way from Dubai to celebrate Chatt Pooja has lauded the effort made by the railway authority.
"I have come from Dubai for Chath Pooja. I wasn't aware that Chhath celebrations were banned in Delhi this year, I got to know it only when I landed at the airport. It is a good decision by the Delhi Government to ban the celebrations in view of COVID-19 crisis," Mishra said.
Another passenger Neeraj Srivatsava who came from Gujarat and will be going to Gorakhpur via Delhi to celebrate the Sun worship festival, said, "All the festive celebrations are dim this time due to COVID and it's good that Chhath celebrations have been banned because if people would gather in large numbers, it will increase the risk of contracting COVID-19."
The General Manager, Northern Railway, Ashutosh Gangwal told ANI that they held a meeting and discussed the special arrangements that would be required to maintain social distancing in order to manage the crowd that would travel for the Chhath celebration.
"This was done so that the passengers do not face any inconvenience and the required guidelines of COVID are also followed," he added.
He further added that last year, Indian Railways had made 1,063 trips and this year this is three times and around 3,237 trips are scheduled to meet the crowd management during Diwali and Chatt puja celebrations.
Manoj Kumar, working in Najafgarh who is scheduled to go to Bihar said, "I have come from Najafgarh and would travel to Patna. I am going to celebrate Chhath Pooja with my family. People should maintain social distancing and should be cautious while celebrating. The arrangement made by the Railways is very nice and is adding to the convenience of the passengers."
Chatt Puja day is a day of fasting and reverence especially for married women who dedicate the offering of flowers, fruits and delicacies along with water to Lord Surya (Sun God) and Chhathi Maiya. But the coronavirus pandemic has caused havoc across the world.
No Chhath Puja celebrations allowed within Delhi at public places like ponds and riverbanks. The Delhi High Court has upheld the Delhi government's decision to ban the same due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had issued an order to not to allow any gathering in public places for Chhath Puja that falls on November 20 this year. (ANI).