The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to consider allowing daily wage workers, vendors and shop employees to use local trains during non-peak hours. The court said that the frequency of local trains should be increased corresponding to the number of commuters and sectors opening up.
The HC was on Monday hearing PILs seeking directions to the state to consider practising advocates as essential service providers and permit them to travel by suburban local trains to attend hearings at subordinate courts in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
State Govt need to take responsibility of its citizens of Mumbai and Maharashtra. Need to devise ways and means, announcements is not enough. Wish Maha Govt will take staggered timings of the offices & open up for all the poor laborers who lack of income. https://t.co/ZjsROLazHm
— Mumbai Railway Users (@mumbairailusers) October 19, 2020
Currently, only essential services staff and government employees are allowed to board local trains in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last month, the HC asked the state to permit lawyers who had physical hearings in the Bombay High Court as well subordinate courts in MMR region to travel to court by local trains on an “experimental basis”. The HC on Monday said the arrangement will continue till further orders.
The state government on Monday told the court that it had not been able to speak with all stakeholders on usage of public transport, as was directed by the court in a previous hearing and asked for more time to call such a meeting.
The state chief secretary, however, met various department heads and police officers to discuss the demand for increasing local train services and has taken a decision to allow women to use local train services during non-peak hours.
When the court asked if such a facility will be made available to daily-wage workers, vendors and shop employees, the government submitted they were currently not allowed to board local trains.
The bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni said, “It is a question of their survival. They are most needy and the identification has to be done by the appropriate department to identify the categories. You need to tell us what percentage of sectors have opened up and if they are correspondingly allowed to travel by public transport, trains.”
The bench said, “Increase in train services means an increase in revenue loss until the number of travellers is increased. Allow more people to travel by staggering office timings and reduce revenue loss. We agree that it is going to be a challenge. A very effective machinery is needed.”
The HC gave the state government time till October 29 to respond.