Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has accepted a proposal from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to resume metro services in the national capital from September 7, sources said Wednesday. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, of which Mr Baijal is Chairperson.
Metro services are set to resume, albeit with strict Covid restrictions, following a five-month shutdown because of the pandemic and lockdown.
The use of masks and smart cards (to eliminate unnecessary physical contact from use of tokens) have been made mandatory for travel on Delhi Metro. The air conditioning system inside coaches will be "renovated" to ensure circulation of fresh air, Delhi Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said
"We are yet to take a decision on what should be the optimum temperature inside the trains," the minister told NDTV, adding that hand sanitiser would be provided at stations and thermal scans would be compulsory as well.
The minister also said trains would not stop at all stations; those that remain closed in the first days of the service's re-start will be re-opened in phases.
"Those in containment zones will remain shut," he added.
Delhi Metro has released a detailed list of guidelines for use of its services during the pandemic. Further SOPs for the running of metro trains are to be released by Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri at 6 PM.
Last week, Mr Kejriwal asked the centre to allow metro services to begin in the national capital, arguing that the Covid situation in the city had improved. He urged the centre to "treat Delhi differently".
On Tuesday, however, Delhi reported its biggest single-day spike in new cases in nearly two months - 2,312 fresh infections were reported, taking the total cases past 1.77 lakh.
The city has also reported nearly 5,000 deaths linked to the Covid virus.
A sero-prevalence survey - to estimate the spread of the virus - held early last month showed that 29.1 per cent of the city's population had been exposed.
Metro rail services across India have been allowed to re-start this month in line with "Unlock" guidelines issued by the centre on Saturday. Services will re-start in a graded manner, the centre said, with strict rules to minimise contact between people and stop the COVID-19 virus from spreading.
The decision to re-start metro services comes amid a worrying surge in new cases; nearly 79,000 fresh infections were reported over the preceding 24 hours, government data showed this morning.
The country has reported over 60,000 new cases every day since August 19, and is now less than two lakh from becoming the second worst-affected in the world; Brazil has 39.5 lakh cases to India's 37.7.
The United States, with 60.74 lakh cases, is the worst-affected country.