'Train toilets had no water; some students even slept on the floor'

Updated: May 18, 2020, 07:46 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

Students stuck in New Delhi for preparations of their civil services examination since the nationwide lockdown was announced, finally board a train for Maharashtra, but say that they would never forget how harrowing the journey was

Students say that social distancing could not be followed inside the compartments due to space crunch
Students say that social distancing could not be followed inside the compartments due to space crunch

About 1,500 students from Maharashtra, who were stuck in Delhi for their civil services examination preparations, have been struggling for a long time to return home. Even though they have set out on the journey in a train from the national capital, the experience has been a harrowing one. While social distancing norms were not followed inside the coaches, the students claimed that there was no water in the toilets. What was worse is that they were not given food till Sunday morning and a lot of them had to sleep on the floor as well.

After waiting for a long time to return home, the students finally got to know on May 11 that the railways would arrange for a train for their return, but little did they know how difficult the journey was going to be.

'Coaches not sanitised'
One of the students shared, "On Saturday as I left for the station in hurry, I did not get time to eat. The entire day we spent waiting, standing in queues and completing formalities. Finally our journey began around 10.20 pm and since then the problems haven't stopped. We were made to sit in five compartments and it seemed that the coaches had not been sanitised. We cleaned the seats before sitting. Due to space crunch it was not possible to maintain social distance and everyone's luggage was all over the place. Some even lost their bags. And worst of all, there was no water in the toilets."

Student coordinator, Rajesh Bonawate said, "The railways had said that they would provide food for a day. Hence, we had arranged food packets for Saturday. But we could not distribute them among the students as the train left suddenly without any announcement. Even though sleeper coaches were there, we were made to sit in general compartments. Hence there was no question of social distancing. We did not have enough space to sleep as well. Many of us had to sleep on the floor."

'Food was given'
When contacted, chief PRO of Central Railway, Shivaji Sutar, said, "As per information shared by the DRM of Bhusawal, the students were given tea, biscuits and snacks on Sunday morning at Khandwa station and lunch was served at Bhusawal. Dinner had also been planned."

He also said that water supply to the toilets were restored after the train reached Bhusawal.

According to students, more than 400 of them alighted from the train at Bhusawal. Bonawate further said, "When our volunteers were distributing food packets, the railway police created a lot of confusion. It was important for us to provide food packets to those who alighted at Bhusawal as they had not eaten since Saturday. After days of struggle we managed to get on a train to head home but then we will never forget this journey."

'Has to be looked into'
Refusing to accept any complaints from the students, chief PRO of Northern Railway, Deepak Kumar said, "I am shocked to know that social distancing was not followed in the train. We do not allow more than a stipulated number of passengers in a single coach. We have complete data regarding it. It has to be looked into. We also had provided these students with food packets and a bottle of water each when they started the journey."

10.20pm
Time when the train left New Delhi on Saturday

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