Flouting Covid-19 norms in metro may attract heavy fines once it reopens

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Travelling without a face mask, sitting on seats that are meant to be left vacant in order to maintain social distancing, spitting, and littering in trains or platforms, may attract hefty fines once Delhi Metro services resume in the Capital, according to people familiar with the matter.

A flying squad of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which guards the Delhi Metro, will be on the lookout for any violation of rules that have been put in place to contain the spread of Covid-19. The fines could start from Rs 500 for first-time offenders and are likely to be scaled up significantly for a repeat offence, the people added.

Delhi Metro services have remained suspended since March 22, when the “janta curfew” (voluntary curfew) was observed on an appeal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, two days before a 68-day national lockdown was imposed. While other modes of public transport have been allowed with restrictions since then, as part of a gradual “unlocking”, Metro services — including the Delhi Metro, which caters to nearly 2.4 daily million passengers — have remained suspended.

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When the Delhi Metro will begin has not been announced yet, but there have been indications that its resumption could be a part of the next unlock norms to be announced before September 1.

Decisions regarding new protocols for the Metro — whenever it resumes — were taken in a meeting convened by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on Thursday, and attended by senior officers from CISF and the Delhi Police. The meeting was also attended by senior police officers from the adjoining states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, as the Delhi Metro also operates services to parts of these states that fall within the National Capital Region (NCR).

One of the officials who was a part of the meeting said on condition of anonymity that it was decided all guidelines set by the Indian Council of Medical Research must be strictly followed. “Any passenger who is caught spitting or dirtying will be fined. Those who do not follow rules like wearing a mask; are found sitting on seats that are to be left vacant; or deliberately violating social distancing norms will also be fined,” the official said.

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When contacted, deputy inspector general, CISF, Jitender Rana, said the force’s Alpha teams and flying squads will step up checks and monitoring. “Apart from our regular security work, our teams will also keep an eye out for anyone disrupting hygiene on Delhi Metro, thereby putting fellow passengers at risk. Such violators will be caught and fined,” Rana said.

A third officer privy to the developments said: “The fine will be of ₹500 for a first-time offender and may go up significantly for repeat offenders. Those not complying or refusing to pay the fine may be prosecuted and be handed over to the Delhi Metro Rail Police (DMRP), a unit of the Delhi Police,” he said.

The third officer added that the CISF personnel checking commuters at entry points will wear personal protective equipment. Before passengers can enter the station, their will be checked for body temperature, masks, and their status on Aarogya Setu app will be verified. “This may cause queues outside the station and so a Delhi Police personnel will be deployed to ensure social distancing,” he said, adding that access gates to stations will be opened depending upon the footfall and size of the station.

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