New Delhi

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday allowed the use of trains for ferrying people stranded due to the nationwide lockdown to their respective states, an official said.

Addressing a press conference, Joint Secretary in the MHA Punya Salila Srivastava said stranded people such as migrant workers, tourists, pilgrims and students can now be transported using trains. “States and the Railway Board will make the necessary arrangements for the same,” she said.

Underlining that some problems are cropping up in the movement of trucks and load carriers, Srivastava said the MHA has again written to the states, reiterating that no separate pass is needed for trucks and load carriers, including the empty vehicles.

Exercising the powers conferred under the Disaster Management Act, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the movement of migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places is allowed by special trains to be operated by the Ministry of Railways (MoR). The MoR will designate nodal officers for coordinating with the states and Union territories for their movement, he added. “The MoR will issue detailed guidelines for sale of tickets, and social distancing and other safety measures to be observed at train stations, platforms and within the trains,” the Home Secretary said.

Asked about lifting of restrictions on transport movement in Delhi, Mumbai, other cities and green zones from Monday, Srivastava said one should wait for the fresh guidelines from the MHA. She also highlighted the contribution of the Central Armed Police Forces in handling the lockdown situation in the country.

They have provided 32 hospitals for COVID-19 patients, helped set up quarantine centres, distribute dry ration and food and run blood donation camps in the country, besides working under district administrations to enforce the lockdown, Srivastava said. She said a CRPF battallion in Raipur distributed one lakh kg of rice, besides the force with three lakh personnel deployed across the country is also running a call centre for COVID-19 and a telemedicine centre, in addition to running awareness camps.

Srivastava added that while the SSB is helping the people stranded on the India-Nepal border, 103 units of the CISF’s fire safety teams are helping district administrations in sanitisation and the BSF has increased patrolling on the borders to ensure that COVID-19 affected persons are not able to cross into the country. As many as 1,993 fresh COVID-19 cases were reported in the country in the last 24 hours, taking the tally to 35,046 cases, a health ministry official said.

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