Namma commuters bid adieu to Covid norms

City COVID-19 metro

Few wear masks; crowding is rampant on trains

“The doors will open on the left,” said the announcement, and a mob of commuters rushed in and out of the Metro. They stood in unison with blank faces staring into the abyss. They did unconscious activities like giving each other accidental embraces and removing masks to breathe in a gulp of air. As the door opened on the left again a maskless woman entered the train scanning the seats. Her face brightened as she saw a few vacant seats that were marked “Do not sit”.

The Observer saw another woman sitting without a mask talking to a fellow passenger sitting next to her. Some commuters removed their masks to reutter the words that were earlier muffled by their masks.

The distance of six feet as mandated by the Karnataka government inside Metro trains is a myth.

Asguards on the platform whistled, The Observer saw one of them asking a passenger to pull up the mask resting on his chin. A saffron-clad sadhu passed him without a mask on.

Flouting of Covid norms is more common at stations which are in the heart of Bengaluru. Social distancing increases as the trains moved towards the farther ends of either line.

Ravi Prakash, Senior PR Manager of the Bangalore Metro Rail Commission Ltd (BMRCL), said: “We check every passenger through the scanner, their temperature and whether they are wearing a mask. At the stations, there are guards to ensure that people follow Covid norms, but inside the Metro it is difficult. It should be the passengers’ call; they should ensure they maintain distance. No one can push you …to maintain distance.”

Sandana, a NIMHANS employee who travels on the Metro regularly, said she has seen a change in people’s habits post first wave and second wave. “Since we have seen two waves of the pandemic, and with vaccination, the anxiety has subsided. We all want to return to our normal lives. I try to take all precautions, but with a huge crowd, social distancing is difficult.”

Another commuter said: “I avoid travelling on the Metro post Covid because people will never learn to follow rules.”

Sashi Kala, a  regular commuter, shared: “In the Metro, with so much crowding, it is impossible to maintain distance, but at least most of them wear masks.”

A guard on duty at the Kempegowda Metro station said: “There are so many people and little space. There is no way one can maintain social distancing. There are few deaths and cases so people are not scared anymore.”

A guard at the M.G. Road station said: “I keep yelling and asking people to wear masks and maintain distance all the time during my shift. We cannot fine them, so they don’t care.” She comes across countless travellers flouting rules on the station.

The lack of social distancing and flouting of Covid-19 norms on the Metro could prove to be a nightmare as Bengaluru still has active cases. A distance of six feet is compulsory. A fine of Rs 250 is charged for not wearing masks inside the metro.

Rohini R, a Metro Home Guard, said there are no fines for not maintaining social distancing. “I catch at least 10-20 people not wearing masks and fine them. If a passenger is OK with another passenger sitting next to him/her, we allow them to sit. There is a rush in the Metro. Where will they sit? she said. “Social distancing is not possible with so a rush.”

A similar situation was faced by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. With its trains running at full capacity, they have decided to enforce social distancing. According to a recent notice, DMRC will intensify its plan to ensure that people maintain social distancing and wear masks. This is being done to avoid any more spread of the virus.

Keywords: Namms metro, COVID 19, social distancing

Namma metro, social distancing, covid 19, covid norms.



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