NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways on Tuesday said that it was ensuring uninterrupted supply of essential commodities across the country despite the coronavirus outbreak forcing the suspension of all passenger services.
On March 23, a total of 474 rakes were loaded for essential commodities like food grains, salt, edible oil, sugar, milk, fruits and vegetables, onion, coal and petroleum products.
During the day, a total of 891 rakes were loaded by the Indian Railways, which also includes other important commodities like 121 rakes of iron ore, 48 rakes of steel, 25 rakes of cement, 28 rakes of fertiliser, 106 rakes of container and others.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the railways has suspended the operations of passenger train services across the country till March 31.
“Currently, the railways is operating only freight trains across the country. The railways is making all efforts to ensure availability of essential commodities through its uninterrupted freight services.
“During the situation of lockdown in various states, Indian Railways staff deployed at various good sheds, stations and control offices is working on 24/7 basis to ensure that the supply of essential items for the nation does not gets affected,” the ministry said.
Close coordination is being maintained with the state governments so that rakes of essential commodities are handled smoothly without any delay, amidst various restriction imposed in the wake of COVID-19, it said.
The Indian Railways has slashed the demurrage and wharfage rates for goods and parcel at half of the prescribed rates till March 31.
Free time for loading and unloading of wagons and free time for removal of consignment from railway premises has been increased to double of the prescribed free time till March 31.
“Indian Railways staff deployed in control rooms for operation of freight trains, line staff, maintenance staff, security personnel and medical staff in railway hospitals is working continuously 24/7.
“The Indian Railways understands its crucial role during this difficult time and requests all the stakeholders to fully support in ensuring faster loading and unloading of essential supplies,” it said.