New Delhi, June 2 : Though social distancing norm went for a toss at the New Delhi railway station on Tuesday with people jostling to enter the station from the Paharganj side, the railways seems to be returning on its track.
Authorised porters (coolies) in their red shirts and badges, retailers of various items -- with face masks and gloves dominating their offerings -- and passengers with their luggage were back on the station.
The situation at the station looked grim, a day after the railways started the 200 time-tabled trains across the country. Very few GRP (Government Railway Police) personnel were there to man the entry gates.
Rajesh Gaud, a native of Buxer in Bihar who was at the station with family to catch a train, told IANS, "I am going back to my native place as there is no work here." He could return to Delhi after two-three months after normalisation of the situation, Gaud added.
On the social distancing norm in the train, he said, "We will have to follow that. There is no choice." Sakharam, who arrived here from Nanded in Maharashtra, said, "I am happy that I got the train ticket to come back to Delhi. I was stranded there for the last two months due to lockdown." He said people were following the protocol of social distancing in trains and one should not fear.
The railway porters (coolies) in red shirts were also visible at the station premises. Rizwan, who works as a porter at the New Delhi railway station, was happy to resume his work.
"During the lockdown we went jobless. To feed the family, I was dependent upon free meals provided by the railways or the NGOs outside the station. But now at least I could earn Rs 200 to feed the family," said Rizwan, a native of Rajasthan.
Echoing Rizwan, Omprakash, another porter, said there was no work for the last two months. At Rs 200-300 a day, the income is less due to lesser number of passengers compared with pre-lockdown days. But thank god, at least I am earning that." The starting of trains has also thrown up opportunities for others. Many people who lost there regular jobs are opting to earn their living by selling face masks and surgical gloves to passengers.
Arun, a resident of Karol Bagh, said, "I worked as a salesman at a kurta showroom. I lost my job due to lockdown. To feed my family, I have started selling face masks and gloves to passengers. I earn Rs 200-300 a day and that's enough to feed the family." Once big stores and showrooms opened he would try to get a job there, Arun added.
The railways started to run the 200 time-tabled special trains on Monday and is also operating the Shramik special trains since May 1, and 15 pairs of special air-conditioned trains since May 12.
The passenger trains were stopped on March 25 as the nationwide lockdown was annonced to check spread of coronavirus.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at email@example.com)