As many as 900 COVID isolation units made after converting non-AC sleeper coaches or in Maharashtra have remained unused with no patients admitted so far, revealed a Right to Information (RTI) enquiry.
The Central and Western Railway revealed the information in response to the RTI was filed by Thane activist Ravindra Bhagwat. Reportedly
the Western Railway and Central Railway transformed the coaches into isolation units at the cost of ₹6 crore.
The Indian Railways had developed the special COVID care coaches at Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala after a railway board's directive in March. The Central Railway (CR) had spent ₹3.8 crore to set up 482 Covid care coaches, while the Western Railway transformed 410 coaches at a budget of over ₹2 crore as an emergency backup plan for Maharashtra government.
The average cost of converting a coach into an isolation facility was found to be around ₹85,000, according to the RTI. The coaches will have to be once again transformed once the services resume.
However, railway officials said that it's incorrect to say that funds have been wasted because its a contingency plan in case the government needs more facilities. All over India, 5000 COVID care coaches with a capacity of around 80,00 beds have been made available by India Railways.
These coaches were used only by three states Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. As many as 933 patients have been admitted to COVID care coaches in these three states so far, and all of them have been discharged after treatment.
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