After nearly 60 days of COVID-19 lockdown, India is expected to open up from May 18. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will discuss the way forward from May 18 with all Chief Ministers on May 11. The marathon meeting with Chief Ministers starting from Monday 3 PM is expected to go more than five hours. Meanwhile, on Sunday evening, Indian Railways started running of 15 passenger trains from May 12 and ticket reservations will start from May 11, 4 PM.
“Indian Railways plans to gradually restart passenger train operations from 12th May 2020, initially with 15 pairs of trains (30 return journeys). These trains will be run as special trains from New Delhi Station connecting Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi.
“Thereafter, Indian Railways shall start more special services on new routes, based on the available coaches after reserving 20,000 coaches for COVID-19 care centers and an adequate number of coaches being reserved to enable operation of up to 300 trains every day as “Shramik Special” for stranded migrants. Booking for reservation in these trains will start at 4 PM on 11th May and will be available only on the IRCTC website (https://www.irctc.co.in/). Ticket booking counters at the railway stations shall remain closed and no counter tickets (including platform tickets) shall be issued. Only passengers with valid confirmed tickets will be allowed to enter the railway stations. It will be mandatory for the passengers to wear face cover and undergo screening at departure and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the train. Further details including train schedule will be issued separately in due course,” said Indian Railways.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted:
Railways plans to gradually restart passenger train operations from 12th May, 2020, initially with 15 pairs of special trains connecting New Delhi with major stations across India. Booking in these trains will start at 4 pm on 11th May.https://t.co/DW9I1sPRx6
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) May 10, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday (May 11) meeting with Chief Ministers at 3 PM will decide the plans to open up the country’s economic and industrial activities from May 18. The main agenda is expected to be on the opening up of public transport and dilution of current lockdown norms. Modi on Sunday evening had a consultation with key ministers in the cabinet and senior officials in the empowered group of officers on Sunday evening and Cabinet Secretary also convened a meeting of all Chief Secretaries and Health Secretaries to assess the present situation.
It is learned that majority was opinioned on the “learn to live with Coronavirus” and gear up the country’s activities back in motion, especially economic, industries, and public transport, while strictly insisting to social distancing norms in public space. There were also opinions of identifying hotspots rather ban imposing restrictions in the whole of a district or a municipality. The major demand in all Minister level and official level meetings across the country were to open up public transport and reducing the area of containment zones (hot spots). Many opined that except for the education sector, all other sectors must be opened. The suggestion was to start the Universities, Colleges, and Schools only by July first week.
In the morning, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired meeting with Chief Secretaries and Health Secretaries of all States and Union Territories to review their status of COVID-19 Management through video conference. The meeting’s agenda was focused on the way forward plans from May 18 and the rehabilitation of migrant workers. The top officials also discussed the health sector scenario and increasing the testing and research on the pandemic.
After consulting Chief Ministers, Modi will consult with the Group of Ministers headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Empowered Group of Officials to formulate the way forward strategy from May 18, the last day of lockdown, presently scheduled. The Union Cabinet is also expected to announce the financial packages to revive industries.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also had talks with Judges and Legal officers on Sunday morning on the matter of resuming the opening up of Courts across the country. Many opined for starting the Courts by May last week.