February 23, 2021 2:19:26 am
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) Monday decided to adopt a “wait and watch” mode for another two weeks before taking a call on lifting travel restrictions imposed on public buses and the Metro. The latter has approached the Centre to resume full-scale operations citing mounting losses.
Official sources said the decision was taken in a meeting of the DDMA chaired by Lt-Governor Anil Baijal and attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, NITI Aayog expert V K Paul among others who had a unanimous view “against lowering the guard”.
The DDMA also decided to undertake aggressive genome sequence testing to prevent a possible outbreak of any mutant variant of the Covid-19 virus, sources in the Delhi government said, underlining the worry about the surge in cases in states like Maharashtra and Kerala.
However, authorities are not going to enforce any restrictions or travel ban on passengers coming from other states, an official privy to the discussions in the meeting said.
Delhi has so far vaccinated 1.31 lakh out of 2.4 lakh registered health workers. The L-G and the CM directed officials to add more speed to the vaccination efforts and undertake an aggressive awareness campaign to help people overcome vaccine hesitancy, sources added.
“The view among officials is that Delhi needs to remain vigilant and cannot afford to lower the guard now. Cluster-based genome sequencing will be adopted. The current levels of RT-PCR testing and tracking will continue,” an official said. The daily average testing figures have remained around 60,000 in recent times, with RT-PCR taking the lead.
The DDMA also discussed the issue of cap on ridership in buses and the Metro. While full seating is allowed in buses, standing commuting remains barred. In case of Metro, passengers have to leave alternate seats vacant and only a limited number of standing commuters are allowed per coach. “For now, the existing arrangements will remain enforced. This might be the case for another two weeks at least,” a source said.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has appealed to the Centre to allow full seating pointing out that it has suffered losses amounting to over Rs 2,800 crore since last March on account of suspension of services and restricted operations.
DMRC had earlier written to the Centre requesting it to defer payment of its loan installment for the year 2020-21. It owes the Japan International Cooperation Agency — which has so far granted Rs 35,198 crore loan to DMRC — Rs 1,242.83 crore in the current financial year, which include principal and interest amounts. The Centre had, in turn, directed the Metro to approach the Delhi government. DMRC has an equal equity participation from the Centre and the Delhi government.
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