The South East Central Railway (SECR), Nagpur division, has undertaken a unique step to run ‘Workman special trains’ to ensure its employees and their families, posted at remote tribal belts and forested locations, are not deprived of vaccination.
In the last one week, 1,504 beneficiaries have been taken to Madhya Pradesh’s Nainpur, Balaghat and Chhindwara from different places, including Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, for vaccination. A good number of SECR employees and their family members from different places of eastern Vidarbha like Nagpur, Gondia, Nagbhid, Chanda fort, Ballarshah and such places were ferried in eight workman’s special trains to vaccination centres in Madhya Pradesh.
The SCER took the initiative due to shortages of vaccines in Maharashtra. Another reason was several personnel and their families had fallen victim to Covid-19 in the second wave. “In an earlier initiative, camps were held to vaccinate SECR employees and their families,” said Nagpur division’s divisional railway manager (DRM) Maninder Uppal.
After the latest initiative of running special trains, around 8,400 staffers out of 12,200 have been vaccinated. SECR employees and their family members from Madhya Pradesh too benefited from the initiative of running special trains. Some distance was covered by buses too. The special trains, carrying maintenance supplies and equipment with an additional coach for railway employees and their family members, were operated between Gondia and Balaghat, Nagbhid and Balaghat, Itwari and Chhindwara, Itwari and Gondia, Chanda Fort and Balaghat and also Itwari and Balaghat.
This ensured beneficiaries could reach the vaccination centres at the stipulated time as per their registration in the Co-Win app. Sources stated Uppal sought help from Madhya Pradesh government additional chief secretary (health) to get vaccines for railway men deployed at places along the two newly opened broad gauge lines.
“The 467-km route between Jabalpur, Gondia and Ballarshah was converted into broad gauge and another 50% conversion had taken place between Chhindwara and Nainpur, which connected Itwari too. Before their conversion to broad gauge couple of years, these routes were narrow gauge and had become defunct. Personnel were needed to operate and manage the trains on the broad gauge,” said Uppal.
“Every 10-12 km we had to post men who moved there with their families. Most of these places neither have hospitals nor any health facilities. We had to ensure that the employees and their families were vaccinated,” said Uppal. Uppal also took up the matter with the MP’s director of National Health Mission, Chavvi Bharadwaj. Collectors of Mandla (Nainpur), Balaghat and Chhinwara were also contacted.