New Delhi: The Railways would due diligence before providing bedrools to passengers in trains. This is due to the scare of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told Friday in the Rajya Sabha.
The Railways had last month restored some of its services that it had suspended in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. This included the removal of the ‘special’ tag from trains as it brought down the prices of tickets. The railways also restarted the service of serving hot cooked meals. However, the decision on restoring concessions and providing bedrolls is still pending.
“We were to start providing bedrolls. But after the threat of Omicron, we have decided to take the step after doing due diligence. This is not something on which we should take step in haste. It is about the security of the nation. It is a question about the safety of everybody’s health,” Ashwini Vaishnaw said in reply to a starred question in the Rajya Sabha.
The minister informed the House that mail and express trains are running on normal fair. He said the price of platform tickets has also been normalised. Vaishnaw also said that no railway station was shut down during lockdown.
As part of the nationwide lockdown, all passenger train services were suspended from March 23, 2020. However, freight services were continued to ensure the supply of essential commodities to different parts of India, Vaishnaw informed.
As of March 31, 2021, a total of 810.31 hectares of railway land was under encroachment which includes encroachment by poor people, Vaishnaw told the Rajya Sabha.
The government identifies such encroached land by carrying out regular inspections at various levels. In case, any trespass is noticed which may eventually lead to encroachment, it is removed then and there, the minister said.
If the encroachments are of temporary nature in the shape of jhuggies, jhopries and squatters, the same are removed in consultation and with the assistance of Railway Protection Force (RPF) and local civil authorities, explained the minister.