At first glance, Delhi Metro seems an orderly place, where discipline is maintained, unlike the chaotic conditions on the roads of the capital city. However, a number of rule violations do take place, which are offences under the Metro Railway (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002. Unlawful entry into ‘ladies coach’ was the top offence in May, making up 65.6% of total offences in this month alone. This is dealt with under Section 64 (1). However, it is usually not done deliberately, says a senior official at DMRC.
He explains, “It is usually done by people from outside Delhi who are using Metro for the first time; they do not know about a separate ladies coach as they have travelled only in Indian railways or buses.”
Overall, a total of 20,598 such cases, which is the highest number of cases, were reported in February (36.38%) followed by January and March with 15,846 and 15,237 cases amounting to 27.9% and 26.9%, respectively.
So what is the punishment? The senior official at DMRC said that they prefer to counsel people first. On the whole, he says, people are very cooperative. “We impose a fine only when someone starts to create a nuisance”, he says.
Then there is Section 59, which lists drunkenness, spitting, sitting on the floor, quarrelling, creating a nuisance and not wearing a mask. “Sitting on the floor is usually seen in college-going students travelling in groups,” says the official. “And they immediately get up when they are instructed to.”
Principal Executive Director, Corporate Communications Anuj Dayal says, “The disciplining is done by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s flying squads who travel across all the lines to check for any kind of violations and counsel people to refrain from doing so — for their own and everyone else’s safety.”
In reply to a question, the authorities say there is no particular class of society that is more inclined to break rules. “There is no such predisposition,” says the official. It’s just regular commuters who are familiar with the rules but basically, in his words, “don’t care”.
Speaking on the increased number of penalties in these last few months, the official says, “It is difficult to comment if the high number of cases were due to higher footfall.” He explains, “Increased footfall is observed during festive seasons, especially Bhai Dooj, but relating the spike in penalty cases to such events would not be right.”
A total of only three cases of carrying offensive materials (Section 60) were reported in March and May, signifying that such cases are rare. These items usually are knives and pistols.
As for occupying reserved seats in general coaches, which is mentioned as an offence, a downslide was seen, from 2,790 in January to 954 in May. The reserved seats are for women, senior citizens and differently-abled. This indicates an increased awareness among the general public and a learned habit that it is better to abide by the law.
Interestingly, no cases of penalty or counselling for photography were registered during January-May. “This section does not include taking selfies. It deals with people taking photos of other passengers without consent and people involving in commercial activities for which permission is required, says the official.
Commenting on compliance with Covid-19 restrictions, the senior official says, “People have become more aware after the second wave. Even people who were not careful during the first wave started taking precautions for sanitization and keeping a safe distance.”
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