In a significant development, Indian Railways has decided that only those who agree to follow the quarantine protocol of the destination states will be allowed to book tickets on the IRCTC website. This comes after passengers on board a special train to Bengaluru refused to be quarantined.
The new rule, mentioned in its website, reads "I have read the health advisory issued by my destination state. I accept and shall abide by the same" and requires the passenger to click on 'I agree' to move forward and book tickets.
Around 50 passengers who arrived in Bengaluru from Delhi on May 14 refused to be quarantined at an institutional facility and created a ruckus at the station. Despite much insistence, the railways had to attach an extra bogie and send back around passengers who refused to be quarantined. The passengers paid for their tickets.
According to the IRCTC officials, before finally proceeding to book a ticket, a pop-up will now appear on the computer or mobile screen asking passengers to confirm if they had read the health advisory of the destination state and agree to abide by it. The message is being displayed in Hindi as well as English.
If the passenger selects disagree, then she/he won't be able to book the ticket and will be returned to the reservation page. The new rule is part of a growing list of "mandatory" protocols that the railways have issued due to travel restrictions during the coronavirus crisis.
Earlier, railways made it mandatory for passengers to download the government's contact-tracing app Aarogya Setu and also made it compulsory for passengers to list their destination address before they could book tickets on the IRCTC portal. It has also made wearing masks and social distancing mandatory during travel.
The special Rajdhanis are travelling between 15 major cities and the national capital.
Meanwhile, according to the Union Health Ministry, the death toll due to the novel Coronavirus rose to 2,872 and the number of cases climbed to 90,927 in the country on Friday, with 120 more deaths and 4,987 fresh cases being reported in the past 24 hours. The number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 53,946 as 34,108 people were cured and discharged, and one patient migrated, the ministry said. This is the highest ever spike of positive cases reported in India during a period of 24 hours.
(With Inputs from PTI)