BENGALURU: Commotion marked the arrival of the first train from Mumbai to Bengaluru after two months of coronavirus lockdown. Due to the huge number converging at the smaller second entry and lack of buses, few passengers tried to leave the spot to escape institutional quarantine.
Two of such passengers were brought back by cops and BBMP officials, while a few could have escaped.
The Udyan Express from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus reached Platform 5 of the KSR railway station in Bengaluru at 8.33 am on Tuesday. According to figures provided by the Railways, 644 passengers, including 52 children deboarded from the train. Whereas according to the State Health Department, who check the health status of every arriving passenger, said there were 556 passengers, including 28 children.
With the State declaring compulsory institutional quarantine of 7 days prior to 7 days of home quarantine for passengers from Maharashtra alone, the health officials of BBMP have been on the feet with thermal screening and swab testing (for special categories) before the passengers could be put on BMTC buses to be taken to quarantine centres. However, the buses were nowhere to be found. Passengers from within Karnataka's borders who had boarded the train from Mumbai were let go without any institutional quarantine as they are intrastate travellers.
A senior BMTC official said, "Our buses were there today too. It was only after reaching there that our drivers got to know that there were passengers from a Red Zone place like Mumbai. So, we wanted to send the special and safer partitioned buses we had used earlier at airports and other crucial places. The partition between the driver and the passengers ensures his safety. These buses were withdrawn and we had to despatch the other set of buses," he said.
"The Railways should have informed us in advance about which specific train passengers they were to be used," he added.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Police, Government Railway Police, D Ashoka, "A group of passengers were taken by a bus from the second entry and 100m later the bus stopped. I do not know if it was a
technical problem. They were all made to alight. Most of them returned while two choose to leave. We got to know of it and both police as well as BBMP rushed to the road and brought them back."
Health Equipment Officer of State Health Department Shivakumar, said, "There were too many people around as the buses had not turned up on time. Two of them quickly took an auto and tried to leave. They were chased and caught by the BBMP and the Railway Police. After that, all autos were ordered to leave the area".
With passengers from the previous New Delhi-KSR Bengaluru Daily Special having arrived over an hour earlier and some still around, there was no clarity as to which passenger belonged to which train.
Divisional Railway Manager, Bengaluru Division, A K Varma, said the responsibility of passengers goes over to the BBMP after they reach the station. "To avoid congestion on the second entry side, there would be steps to ensure the Udyan Express arrives on Platform One entry from tomorrow. We have also asked the BBMP to increase the number of testing counters as it took time today."