Maharashtra may soon see the resumption of inter-district train travel after the Uddhav Thackeray government on Friday gave its nod for running special trains from Mumbai to facilitate the movement of people to Konkan for Ganesh Chaturthi, which begins on August 22.
This comes as an exception to the existing guidelines of the state that do not permit inter-district train travel.
In a letter issued on Friday, Director of Disaster Manager Unit, Abhay Yawalkar, stated: “I am directed to state here that the special trains maybe scheduled for the Konkan region for the Ganapati festival in this current year. The number of trains maybe determined as per the demand for the same. A valid confirmed ticket for the same will serve as e-passes.”
Lakhs of people from Mumbai and its adjoining areas head to Konkan districts of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg for the 10-day Ganesh Utsav. With stringent restrictions imposed on travel amid the Covid-19 pandemic, several people from the region had sought relaxations tovisit Konan, where Shiv Sena has a strong presence.
The state’s nod comes as a response to a letter sent by the Central Railway (CR), which had sought the government’s view, as rail officials were receiving appeals for such trains from public representatives.
“As passengers are not allowed to travel across districts in the special trains that are currently being operated, we wanted the state’s view on the demand for special trains for Ganesh festival, as this will essentially only be inter-district travel,” said a senior CR official.
Following the government nod, Central and Western Railway, along with Konkan Railway, is set to seek approval from the Railway Board and subsequently, issue a detailed timetable of special trains that would be run from Mumbai. Chief PRO of CR, Shivaji Sutar, said: “We will soon issue detailed information.”
These special trains will take passengers to Konkan districts and ferry them back to Mumbai, said a government official. “No inter-district travel will be allowed in other trains but only in special trains that will be run for the festival,” said another official.
The proposal to run special trains comes three days after the government allowed inter-district travel for the festival in private and Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation buses from Mumbai, Thane and Palghar.
Those traveling in buses have been asked to travel to Konkan latest by August 12 and undergo a 10-day home quarantine before the festival.
The government had clarified on Thursday that it will create a separate portal for issuing e-passes to those opting for travel via private buses.
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