The Railways on Monday put on hold its plans of starting special trains from Mumbai to Konkan for Ganesh Chaturthi, as it is yet to get a final nod from the Maharashtra government on this.
The special train services were expected to begin on Tuesday. However, late Monday, the Railways had not received the go ahead from the state government to operate the trains.
The Railways had planned 194 trains between August 11 to September 5, the first of which was expected to depart on Tuesday evening.
Tens of thousands of people in Maharashtra, especially those belonging to the Konkan region, travel back to their villages for the 10-day Ganpati festivities, which begins on August 22 this year.
According to rail officials, the details of these trains had to be notified and fired into the IRCTC system to allow passengers to book seats. However, on Monday, with the green light from the state government not forthcoming, the process had to be kept on hold.
The special trains to Konkan were planned after the state government, through its Disaster Management Cell, issued a letter on August 7, permitting inter-district train travel as an exception for Ganesh Chathurti. The ruling Shiv Sena counts the Konkan region as a stronghold.
While Central Railway (CR) was expected to run four trains daily with two each from CSMT and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Western Railway (WR) would run bi-weekly and tri-weekly services from Bandra and Mumbai Central.
A senior railway official said, “These trains cannot be put into the system at the last minute, as care needs to be taken to ensure that there is no excessive load on the server with a large number of people trying to book tickets at once.”
Though the Railway Board had given its nod, the trains were not notified, as no approval from the state was received. Chief PRO for CR, Shivaji Sutar, said, “We have planned the trains and are awaiting further communication.”
Transport Minister Anil Parab, who has been supervising the movement of people to Konkan, could not be reached for comments.
Meanwhile, around 70 buses of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) left for Konkan on Monday. Around 10,000 people have made bookings to travel by bus.
MSRTC is also accepting bookings for travel between August 13 to August 22, when new quarantine rules will come into effect.
To travel to Konkan after August 13, a passenger will have to undergo a Covid-19 test and only those whose reports turn out to be negative would be allowed to travel. “If a person has made a reservation and tests positive later before travel, the reservation will not be cancelled,” said a MSRTC spokesperson.
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