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Railways converted more than 5000 coaches into Covid care centers, but only 4% were used for patients | India News


Indian railways converted 5,601 coaches into Covid care centers at a cost of Rs 47.38 crore during 2020-21. With approximately 16 beds available on each coach, that amounted to more than 89,600 isolation beds. However, data from different sources seem to indicate that only 4% of these beds were used to isolate Covid patients. Despite this first wave experience, the conversion of coaches was taking place even in April 2021.
In September last year, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal told the Rajya Sabha that 5,601 coaches had become Covid care centers from March to June 2020. He said that the railways had spent approximately Rs 60,000 per car on minor modifications, like the elimination of the central bunk. , converting a bathroom into a shower and provision of medical facilities, including oxygen cylinders and other items. He added that, on average, the railways spent Rs 7,000 per patient on Covid care trainers.
In response to an RTI request submitted in April this year, the Ministry of Railways responded on June 10 that Rs 47 million was cumulatively spent on coach conversion. It added that other information such as the statewide distribution of these trainers, the number of quarantined patients in them, and the number of trainers that continued to be used as isolation rooms could not be provided as it did not refer to that particular department. Similarly, the director of mechanical trainers for the railroad board revealed that a total of 5,601 wagons were converted, but did not disclose how much it cost or respond to any of the other inquiries with the same reason that it did refer to that particular division. . This despite the fact that the RTI Act stipulates that the department receiving the inquiry must transfer the inquiry to the department in question and inform the applicant of the transfer.
A November 2020 report from the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Family Health and Welfare titled “The Covid-19 Outbreak and Its Management” stated: “According to information submitted by the Ministry as of July 21, 2020, only 454 COVID patients were admitted to these COVID Care Centers. ”According to reports, only about 4% of isolation beds created by railways were used at the end of July, the committee’s report noted and asked about the under-utilization of beds” in a time when people struggled to find a bed in hospitals. ”
However, in accordance with the Rail Car Covid Case Handling Guidelines issued on April 7, 2020, the rail cars were to be used as Covid care centers for very mild and mild suspected / confirmed Covid cases. People were to be screened for symptoms and clinical conditions and assigned to coaches accordingly. In case of moderate or severe symptoms, they were referred to designated centers or hospitals for further management. Therefore, the beds in the coaches could not have helped alleviate the rush for hospital beds. In addition, it was recommended that most mild cases remain at home unless there were inadequate facilities for isolation at home.
In October 2020, in response to another request from RTI, the Central and Western Railways had stated that almost 900 coaches without air conditioning had been converted at an average cost of Rs 85,000 per coach, but that not a single patient had been admitted to none of them. However, the trainers provided to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had been used and a total of approximately 933 patients had been admitted to these trainers.
According to various press releases issued by the Ministry of Railways, in the second wave, some 200 patients were admitted to the 298 isolation coaches with a capacity of 4,700 beds in various states, including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh with the number higher, around 116. admitted to the Nandurbar district in Maharashtra. There were several complaints that the trainers without air conditioning were too hot and stuffy for patients to use in the heat of the summer.
“It was the Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea to convert rail cars into Covid Care cars. As soon as this revolutionary idea was communicated to the Railways team, it operated in mission mode to ensure that Hon’ble PM’s vision was executed to help citizens as soon as possible, ”said a statement released by South Central Railways on 23 of April. 2021. Coach conversion started at the end of April last year with the goal of converting 5,000 coaches in 16 railway zones when there was little knowledge about Covid and the type of infrastructure needed to deal with it, but by the end of 2020, it was The poor use of the beds in the coaches is evident. However, RTI responses from the multi-zone mechanical division show that the coaches were being converted even in April 2021.

Times of India