The Crowd in Delhi Buses Makes It Look Like There’s No Coronavirus. How Different Will the Metro Be?


The Crowd in Delhi Buses Makes It Look Like There’s No Coronavirus. How Different Will the Metro Be?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Despite the rate of new positive coronavirus cases continuing to rise in the country, the Indian government is moving forward with its phased unlocking. The latest guidelines from the Ministry of Home Affairs, informally dubbed “Unlock 4.0”, have relaxed restrictions enough for state governments to consider reopening public transport systems. In Delhi, the decision has been made to reopen the Delhi Metro, a vital means of connecting the city, on September 7. However, it will not be the crowded, bustling Delhi Metro that many people remember. Keeping the ongoing pandemic in mind, there is a clutch of new rules, restrictions, and guidelines meant to keep the safety of the commuters in mind and uphold social distancing norms.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has said that it is ready to resume operations when directed by the government. Now that the date has been set, many steps are being taken to ensure the smooth functioning of the Delhi Metro in the pandemic. Thermal scans by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel and no physical tokens will ensure minimal contact for passengers. The trains will also run at one-sixth their normal capacity, with only 50 passengers per coach. Hand-sanitiser stations will be set up at all Metro stations, and points of entry as well as seats on the train will be blocked off from use to ensure crowd control. Masks will be mandatory for all passengers. DMRC has stated that further details of the procedures being followed by the Delhi Metro will be released shortly.

However, while the steps being taken seem efficient on paper, how they will work in practise is a different question altogether. With the number of fresh Covid-19 cases in Delhi witnessing a spike (2,312 fresh infections were reported on Tuesday),  the risk of the pandemic is still prevalent. Add to that the cavalier attitude of even a few passengers could endanger the rest who might be following all protocols. Images of passengers crowding onto buses in Delhi could easily be transposed to the Metro, which might prove to have disastrous consequences.

While the government is boldly heading toward unlocking the nation, it is the citizens who will be taking the risks to make it happen.