Offices in Mumbai open up, but what about the travel?

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Mumbai: The new revised unlock guidelines by the Maharashtra government has allowed opening up offices at 100 per cent. However, the MCGM hasn’t clarified the ‘Level’ in which Mumbai and the rest of its metropolitan region are placed (except Palghar that is still under Level 3). This lack of clarity plus local trains not being available for all, it would be chaotic for people wanting to go to work. It will also put a burden on road infrastructure with more vehicles on road.

As per the latest guidelines, the government has allowed private and government offices to open fully and with 100 per cent attendance. District authorities can take a decision depending on the scenario. On the other hand the BMC – the nodal agency for the entire MMR – has simply stated the nature of work allowed as per Levels between 1 and 5.

As per BMC guidelines, if any district falls under Level 2 and less then all private offices can be opened and attendance in government offices can be 100 per cent. As for private offices, the local disaster management authority will decide if they are allowed or not for 100 per cent attendance. Moreover, corresponding arrangements for travel haven’t been made.

Currently, out of the total 31 different sectors and services that fall under ‘Essential Services’ and 9 categories covering exemptions, barely some of them are allowed to travel in local trains. Yet it doesn’t cover all sectors that shall make it challenging for people to travel with ease.

“People are losing jobs as they aren’t able to attend offices. There is a need to stagger office timings and at least allow people who have taken both vaccine doses to commute in local trains,” said Siddesh Desai, HR personnel residing in Kalwa.

On the Central and Western Railways together, there are barely 18-20 lakh passengers travelling in local trains. In July, according to sources, in WR, the daily average used to be 6-8 lakh per day. Others are commuting on the Central Railway.

“We cannot deny the fact that even those people who aren’t allowed to take the local trains, are boarding and travelling illegally without buying valid tickets. These don’t get counted in the data which is an issue,” said a senior railway official.

Since August, this number has increased, for instance, the WR saw more than 12-13 lakh daily passengers while CR had close to 17-18 lakh daily passengers in local trains. “Does the government again expects people to leave their homes early, travel by buses for 2-3 hours one way like they did last year?” said Manohar Shelar, resident of Vasind and member of Kalyan-Karjat/Kasara Railway Passenger Association.

The BEST is already running full and roads are already choked by vehicles. As per figures in the last week of July, the daily average of passengers travelling in BEST buses is around 22-23 lakh while their daily earnings have surpassed Rs 1.85 crore. The daily passenger count had touched 30 lakh earlier this year before the second wave.

The vehicular traffic on road too has gone up with total vehicles now registered in Mumbai RTOs has crossed 40 lakh that comprises 24 lakh two-wheelers. The transport experts claim that as local trains aren’t available for all, so many vehicles have come on the road.

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