Physical distancing norms go for a toss in Guwahati city buses
Guwahati: With the relaxation of stringent lockdown norms in various states of India as part of Unlock 1.0, Guwahati in Assam's Kamrup (Metro) district is also allowing city buses to operate with 50% capacity. In addition, just 50% of the total number of buses have been allowed to operate and only under the state-run Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) amid strict compliance of norms laid down by the state government.
However, the ground reality is quite different. Several buses have been seen to be carrying more than 50% of passengers; with some even spotted allowing passengers to travel while standing.
A daily commuter of such city buses, Kajal Das (name changed) took to Facebook to share some images of how the buses have been blatantly violating the norms in Guwahati.
While traveling from Khanapara to Ulubari in a city bus on Saturday, she wrote, “Bus is overloaded. Bus driver was saying that from 8thh of June all is allowed, he meant that from now onwards we can overload the bus with passengers. And now the conductor is giving hand sanitizer to everyone, they think that doesn’t matter if the bus is overloaded we are giving them cure that means SANITIZER.”
The saddest part was that, let alone the bus staffers, many passengers themselves were seen not following the norms laid down by the state government over social distancing. “Once I was rudely rebuked by a commuter when I requested her not to enter the bus as it was already full,” said Debashis Buragohain, a commuter who works in a bank.
EastMojo reached out to ASTC managing director Anand Prakash Tiwari to understand the situation. “The traffic police do not take any fines from the city buses that do not follow the physical distancing norms, they directly cancel the entire operation of the bus owner until further notice,” he said, adding, “We also have the quick reaction teams who get into the buses pretending to be regular commuters to check whether the norms are being followed or not. Moreover, people now click pictures of violations and even WhatsApp them to us.”
According to Tiwari, a total of about 200 city buses are currently in operation during the first phase of 'Unlock', with plans to increase the numbers gradually.
Meanwhile, the total tally of COVID-19 cases in the state climbed to 2,473 as on Saturday night, Kamrup M registering 12 cases on Saturday.