With Maharashtra government allowing people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel in local trains from August 15, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday said it will set up 358 help desks in 53 stations of Mumbai to facilitate offline verification of vaccination certificates. The facility will be available from Wednesday.
In the remaining 55 stations of Mumbai Metropolitan Region, the respective municipal corporations or local bodies — like in Thane, Navi Mumbai, Palghar and Raigad — will set up help desks.
On August 8, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had announced that people who have been fully vaccinated and completed 14 days after receiving the second dose will be allowed to travel in Mumbai suburban local trains from August 15.
Thackeray had announced that an online and offline system would be set up for commuters to verify the authenticity of their CoWin-generated vaccination certificates to make them eligible for a monthly pass.
While the government is yet to start the online system, the BMC on Tuesday rolled out the standard operating procedure (SOP) on how the offline system will operate.
Across Mumbai, 358 help desks will be set up at 53 stations. These help desks will be operational on all seven days in two sessions – 7 am to 3 pm and from 3 pm to 11 pm.
The SOP issued by BMC stated that fully vaccinated commuters, who have completed 14 days after the second dose and wish to avail the monthly season pass, can approach these help desks. The commuters have to show their vaccination certificate, along with a government issued photo ID (preferably Aadhaar card) card. They also need to carry a photocopy of the photo ID for stamping purposes.
The staffers at the help desks will verify the authenticity of the vaccination certificate by scanning its QR code. If found authentic, they will stamp the certificate as well as the photocopy of the photo ID. The commuter can then use the same to procure the monthly pass at the ticket counters.
Commuters are required to carry all three – ticket, vaccination certificate and ID card — while travelling.
“A strict system of checking will be in place with the police only allowing those with monthly pass and vaccination certificate along with a photo ID card to enter platforms,” a senior railway official said.
Those found with fake documents will be liable for criminal action under the Epidemic Control Act, Disaster Management Act and the Indian Penal Code.
Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal told mediapersons on Tuesday, “The chief minister has announced that the eligible citizens who have completed vaccination against Covid-19 (including 14 days after second dose) will be able to travel by local train from August 15. This will be facilitated both online and offline. However, the process of creating a mobile app and starting the online process may take a little more time. Hence, the offline process will start from Wednesday.”
He also appealed to people not to unnecessarily crowd at stations. The Central Railway administration said it will open sufficient number of booking windows to avoid crowding.
People working in government and semi-government offices as well as those involved in providing essential services will continue to travel by local trains as per prevailing practice, even if they are not vaccinated.
Suburban train services were shut down on March 23 last year during the lockdown. The Central Railway and Western Railway used to operate 1,774 and 1,367 services each day, respectively, before the pandemic. Subsequently, train services were resumed but access was limited to specific categories of people.