In view of the rising COVID-19 cases across the country, Indian Railways on Saturday announced that a fine of up to Rs 500 will be imposed on the passengers for not wearing face masks at the railway premises or during travel in trains. The order on face masks has been issued for a period of 6 months till further instructions.
This is the latest in a slew of measures that the railways has taken to ensure compliance of the various COVID-19 protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Affairs to restrict the spread of the virus.
In a letter to all the General Managers of Railway zones, Executive Director of Passenger Marketing Neeraj Sharma said, "Indian Railways is taking various measures to contain the spread of the resurgence of Covid-19 pandemic, in accordance with the guidelines issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Home Affairs from time to time. One of the specific guideline is to wear masks in order to contain the spread of the pandemic."
"The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for movement of trains as brought out by Indian Railways on May 11, 2020, says that it should be advised to all passengers that they shall be wearing face cover/ mask at entry and during travel," he added.
The mandatory use of masks and the fine will now be listed under the Indian Railways (Penalties for activities affecting cleanliness at Railway Premises) Rules, 2012, which also has the provision of fines for those found spitting on rail premises, it said.
"In view of the COVID-19 situation, controlling spitting and act of similar nature due to any person not wearing mask and entering railway premises (including trains), is important to avoid creation of unclean and unhygienic conditions which may cause danger to life and public health, " the order said.
"Accordingly, to prevent spitting and act of similar nature and thus, to ensure wearing of face masks or face cover by all persons at railway premises (including trains), fines (up to 500) under Indian Railways (Penalties for activities affecting cleanliness at Railway Premises) Rules, 2012, shall be imposed by railway officials authorised for this purpose, from persons not wearing face mask or cover in railway premises including trains," it stated.
The order also said that railways may take action with immediate effect for a period of "six months" till further instructions issued in this regard.
A record single-day rise of 2,34,692 cases and 1,341 fatalities have pushed India's COVID-19 tally to 1,45,26,609 and the death toll due to the viral disease to 1,75,649, the health ministry said on Saturday.
The number of active coronavirus cases in the country has surpassed the 16-lakh mark, the ministry's data updated at 8 am showed.
Registering a steady increase for the 38th day in a row, the tally of active COVID-19 cases has climbed to 16,79,740 in the country, accounting for 11.56 per cent of its total caseload, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has dropped to 87.23 per cent.
The national transporter is currently operating 70 per cent of its passenger train services across the country.
(With Inputs from agencies)