Kolkata, Jun 29 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday urged the Kolkata Metro authorities to resume operations in a “limited manner” at the earliest, as she said the state chief secretary will soon speak to chairman of the Railway Board on the issue.
If the operations resume in a limited manner, that is, only carrying people engaged in essential services, that will benefit at least one-fourth of the city's commuters, she said.
'We are requesting the metro authorities to resume services as early as possible. I know the manner in which they are operating suburban trains in Mumbai (only for people in the essential services).
'We have asked them to resume it for all, but they opined in favour of restarting only limited services to help people working in essential services,' Banerjee said at the state secretariat here.
The Kolkata Metro Railway authorities are trying to develop a mobile application to help people in the emergency services to commute.
'If they resume operations in this manner, I think that too will help one-fourth of the city's commuters. Those who are travelling by buses now will be able to take the metro, giving opportunities to others to avail bus services. We have requested them to do it as quickly as possible,' she said.
The chief minister had expressed willingness to allow metro services from July 1, over which a meeting between the Kolkata Metro authorities and the state government officials was held at the state secretariat here on Monday.
At first, the state government has to communicate its inclination on running of metro services to the railway ministry, following which it will take a call on the issue, sources said.
The Railway Board had on June 25 said that all regular mail, express and passenger services as well as suburban trains will remain cancelled till August 12 in the wake of the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the country.
'To start metro services before August 12, we need instructions from the railway ministry following clearances from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,' a senior metro official said.
During the meeting with the state government officials, the metro authorities said crowd controlling for maintaining social distancing inside trains and at stations would be a challenge once the services are resumed.
'The metro authorities informed the state government that it can run limited number of trains. Only essential services staff may be allowed to avail the trains to ensure social distancing norms keeping in mind COVID-19 safety protocols,' the official said.
Under normal circumstances, the Kolkata Metro carries around 6.5 lakh passengers on a weekday.
The Kolkata Metro has been conducting trial runs of trains for maintenance of its rolling stock, signalling systems and other facilities since the last week of May to keep the trains ready for resumption of services, according to the official.
It had earlier said that strict social distancing norms would be maintained at entry and inside coaches after recommencement of services.
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