A day after Transport Minister Anil Parab said that it is up to the Railways to start special trains within Maharashtra for Ganesh Chathurthi as the state government has already given an in-principle approval to it, the Central Railways (CR) on Thursday reiterated that it is yet to receive a final go ahead from the state.
“Central Railway wishes to inform the passengers that it is ready to run the specials, however, the final go ahead is yet to be confirmed by the state government of Maharashtra,” CR said in a statement on Thursday. It added that the Railways is ready to run the specials subject to all norms, including social distancing.
“However, senior officials of state government of Maharashtra informed on telephone on Saturday, 8th August at night, to keep on hold the schedule of running of special trains, as the matter is under reconsideration of Maharashtra government and said that they would advise the outcome. Since then, Railway administration, both at Board level and zonal level, are in continuous touch with Maharashtra government officials and have been awaiting to go ahead,” the statement said.
“We will take a final decision on this in the next couple of days,” State Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar told mediapersons on Thursday.
However, when asked why the government had not given the final green light, which the Railways said was necessary to begin accepting ticket bookings, Parab had told us on Wednesday: “Last week, we have given in writing to the Railways to start trains for Konkan. And we want the Railways to run the trains. Once we have given a go ahead in writing, the Railways should schedule and run the trains. There is no hurdle from the government.”
The proposal of running 194 trains between August 11 to September 5 from Mumbai to the various districts of Konkan for the Ganesh Chathurthi festivities has been kept in abeyance after an initial nod by both the Railways and the Maharashtra government.
Sources said the state has now started having doubts over allowing the large scale movement of people in trains at a time when Covid-19 cases have been rising, and lobbed the ball back into the Railways’ court.