Telangana RTC, SCR have no means to screen one crore people for coronavirus daily

Officials throw up their hands in the face of the operational nightmare

Hyderabad: The principal mass transport carriers in Telangana, the South Central Railway and the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) are both groaning under the need to screen passengers for coronavirus to arrest it spread in the state.

Staff of both carriers are trying to thermal screen passengers and clean their surfaces, but given the sheer numbers, it is practically impossible.

The SCR moves 10.50 lakh people daily. The Secunderabad railway station alone caters to over 1.5 lakh within a 16-hour timeframe.

Nevertheless, SCR has launched an awareness campaign for its staff and travellers. Sanitation staff with masks have been tasked to clean all surfaces that commuters are likely to come in contact with like bathroom doors, latches, taps window rods and so on.

SCR has stopped giving blankets to passengers in its air-conditioned coaches as they are not washed every day. At stations across the country, railways has set up isolation wards in the event of an outbreak.

However, SCR officials admit it is impossible to conduct thermal screening on all passengers. “There are far too many people for that. We just don’t have the resources,” an official in the operations department said.

Another official said that such a measure would create panic among passengers.

A member of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee, requesting anonymity, said. “It is simply illogical to expect us to thermal-screen all passengers. Railways doesn’t have that kind of capacity.”

The TSRTC has been sanitising its vehicles daily. An RTC official said, “We move over one crore people each day. The idea of screening everyone, though ideal, is impractical.”

Tamil Nadu transport utilities have been screening some rail and bus passengers coming from neighbouring states. The state's chief secretary K Shanmugam had announced this decision in view of the local spread of the virus in neighbouring states.

Closer home, Telangana health minister Etela Rajendar, at a recent press conference, claimed that it was extremely challenging to screen all those coming into Telangana via road or rail.

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