The Maharashtra government on Friday told the Bombay High Court that it is likely to take a decision on whether to allow all persons to board suburban local trains next week.
The state government indicated that high-level deliberations are on as to how common persons, besides those involved in essential services, can be accommodated to use local trains and how to manage the crowd, among other issues, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The state government was responding to a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni, which was hearing public interest litigations (PILs) filed by the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa (BCMG), and other lawyers. The litigants had sought directions to the state to consider practicing advocates as essential service providers, and permit them to travel by local trains to attend hearings in trial courts.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said the state government would take a decision by Tuesday, January 12, and inform the court about the same. In light of this, the bench adjourned the hearing.
It has been over nine months since the partial closure of Mumbai’s suburban train system has caused immeasurable hardship for residents of Mumbai, where the suburban train services play a vital role in facilitating the north-south movement of the city’s workforce. The local train service also facilitates the inter-district travel of commuters in five districts — Mumbai, Mumbai suburban, Thane, Palghar and Raigarh.
The decision to regulate services on the nation’s largest commuter train network has caused hardships to many residents of Mumbai’s satellite cities, especially the poor. As businesses open, many members of the city’s workforce, who stay in faraway locations from commercial business districts, have seen their daily commute time double as they attempt to reach Mumbai.