NEW DELHI:The Centre on Friday decided to extend the ongoing lockdown by two weeks effective from May 4 and gave go ahead to the railways to evacuate stranded migrant workers by running “Shramik special trains.”
In an order, the Union home ministry said the decision has been taken after a comprehensive review of the COVID-19 situation.
The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to further extend the lockdown for a period of two weeks beyond May 4, 2020, an official statement said.
A limited number of activities will remain prohibited across India, irrespective of the zone, including travel by air, rail, metro and interState movement by road; running of schools, colleges, and other educational & training/coaching institutions, the ministry said.
In red zones, outside containment zones, certain activities are prohibited in addition to those prohibited throughout India. These are: plying of cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws; taxis and cabaggregators; intra-district and inter-district plying of buses and barber shops, spas and saloons.
Earlier in the day, point-to-point train services were rolled out on request of the state government to facilitate homeward movement of millions stranded migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons.
The Union ministry in an order stated that the railways and the state government will designate nodal officer (s) for coordinating with states and union territories for evacuation of several millions people stranded across the country, desperate to go home.
According to a railway ministry passengers will be allowed to board the train only after they are found asymptomatic of Covid-19 infection during the screening process to be done by the sending states.
The first special train started its journey from Lingampalli railway station near Hyderabad in Telangana around 5am on Friday carrying 1200 workers from Jharkhand. The destination point of the train is Hatia, near Ranchi in Jharkhand.
Another train left for Bhubanweshar in Odisha from Aluva in Kerala at 6pm. The railway also operated four more trains—from Nasik to Lucknow, Nasik to Bhopal, Jaipur to Patna and Kota to Hatia—on May 1.
That PM Modi did not announce the extension of the lockdown personally as before but did it through a Home Ministry press release was considered significant.
” He perhaps knows this will not be popular, so he is not putting his face to it,” said Congress leader Bobbeeta Sarmah.