The Indian Railways has informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture met on Wednesday that 63 per cent of tickets in the railways have been cancelled due to the coronavirus scare. The committee met to review the impact of coronavirus on the civil aviation sector and the Indian Railways.
The review meeting was attended by secretaries of ministries of Civil Aviation and Tourism and Chairman of the Railway Board VK Yadav. Yadav informed the committee that 63 per cent of railway tickets have been cancelled due to the pandemic.
Yadav was also reprimanded for not being fully prepared for the meeting. "Railway Board chairman was unprepared and made a shoddy presentation at such a sensitive time," a member of the panel said. "While the aviation and tourism officials came with presentations with slides, Chairman Railway Board did not. He just read out from some papers he was carrying. He was unprepared and made a shoddy presentation," said an MP.
Yadav also said that railways prepared pamphlets on dos and dont's on coronavirus. He said these instructions were given to the passengers. Another member of the panel asked what he proposes to do about illiterate passengers. The panel member pointed out that railway is the only medium of travel for a large number of people and the matter should be addressed.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation gave a detailed presentation and indicated that the aviation industry in India is facing huge losses due to coronavirus. Sources told India Today that a member raised the issue of an airline asking its staff to go on leave without pay. GoAir has asked its rotational staff to go on leave without pay. The airline has also decided to lay off expat pilots.
The committee has also asked airlines to ensure medical check up of family members of those who are deployed at airports.
Railways and airlines sectors have seen a wave of ticket cancellations as all state governments and the Centre have urged people to cut down on non-essential travel. Most international flights to and from India have also been suspended.