Hundreds stranded at Delhi’s bus terminals, railway stationsUpdated: Mar 22, 2020 23:11 IST
Hundreds of passengers from various states of the country, and some from Nepal, on Sunday found themselves stranded at bus terminals and railway stations in the National Capital as interstate buses and trains were cancelled in view of the Covid-19 outbreak in the city.
The railway stations mostly wore a deserted look, with passengers alighting from trains and railway staff being the only ones making their way out. Most passengers were spotted walking to the nearest bus terminals.
At bus terminals, however, the norm of social distancing went for a toss as hundreds of passengers destined for other states — and some to Nepal — found themselves stranded. Most of them had covered their faces with masks and handkerchiefs and huddled together.
Delhi is served by three interstate bus terminals - Kashmere Gate, Sarai Kale Khan and Anand Vihar. “The daily footfall at these three terminals is about three lakhs,” said a transport official.
A large number of the people stranded at some of these bus terminals belonged to Nepal and were returning from states like Karnataka and Kerala. With their hotels shutting down temporarily, they arrived in Delhi by trains and were to interchange here, but were informed that the trains were cancelled.
Naresh, one such Nepalese, said that he had waited at the Anand Vihar inter-state bus terminal to reach the Uttarakhand-Nepal border since Sunday morning, but was told by policemen in late afternoon that buses had been cancelled until March 31.
“We have been trying to hire cabs, but their drivers are demanding exorbitant amounts and saying that they can provide their service only late in the night,” said Naresh.
Many of the Nepalese said they didn’t have any relatives or friends in Delhi, so they didn’t have any place to stay.
Others, including some local citizens, stated they had no access to food and water. While shops at the railway stations were closed, those at the bus terminals had continued to operate till they received news of inter-state bus cancellations in the afternoon.
The railway ministry on Sunday announced that all trains, except essential goods trains, stood cancelled till March 31. There are five major railway stations in Delhi - New Delhi, Old Delhi, Nizamuddin, Anand Vihar and Sarai Rohilla.
Giving an estimate of how many trains and passengers were affected by the decision, Deepak Kumar, the chief PRO of Northern Railways, said that these five railway stations have a daily footfall of nearly 900,000 on an average. “Around 650 trains leave Delhi stations every day on an average,” he said.
Outside the Kashmere Gate inter-state bus terminal, ten students of Class 9 who had returned from Maharashtra by changing several buses, said they were making frantic calls to their parents in Hisar and elsewhere in Haryana to arrange transportation for them. “We are hopeful that buses will begin plying after 9pm,” Usha, a teacher accompanying the students, said in the afternoon.
Similar scenes were witnessed at Old Delhi Railway station where 22 children, aged between nine and 14 years, and their six guardians were stranded while returning from a sporting event in Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. They were headed to various states in the north-east.
“We were to change train in Delhi, but on getting here we got to know about the cancellations. The children barely have anything to eat. We don’t know what to do,” said one of their guardians, Hoshiyaar Singh Thakur.