Hundreds of people who reached Calcutta by special trains queued up at the long-distance bus terminuses in Babughat and Esplanade between early morning and afternoon on the day of “Janata Curfew”.
Passengers, including a large number of migrant labourers, walked from Howrah and Sealdah stations to catch the few long-distance buses that were plying.
Private operators mostly stayed away. A few buses run by the North Bengal State Transport Corporation and the South Bengal State Transport Corporation came to the rescue of the passengers.
None of the people was screened for symptoms of coronavirus infection, a transport department official said.
“Around 7,000 private buses on different routes in and around Calcutta stayed away from the roads,” said Tapan Bandopadhyay, of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate, the largest body of private bus operators in Bengal.
At most terminuses, including Karunamoyee in Salt Lake, only government buses were seen. Most buses were carrying one or two passengers, who were wearing masks.
“Around 500 buses of the West Bengal State Transport Corporation were pressed into service,” said a transport department official. “The passenger count went up marginally at night.”
As buses were few and taxis fewer, some of those who reached by train at Howrah and Sealdah stations had to wait to reach home in the city.
Railway officials at Howrah and Sealdah said the passengers arriving at the two stations were screened with thermal scanners for fever.
Among the trains that reached Howrah were two special trains from Maharashtra. A train from Pune reached Howrah around 7.30am and another from CSMT (Mumbai) reached around 1pm.
Over 4,500 passengers, mostly migrant labourers from Bengal, were on the trains, railway officials said.
The state government and the railways arranged for thermal scanning of the passengers. “Three persons were sent to hospital after thermal screening,” said Ishaq Khan, the divisional railway manager of the Howrah division.
At the Sealdah station, the Darjeeling Mail and some other trains arrived in the morning. “The passengers underwent thermal screening. No suspects were found,” said Prabhas Dansana, the divisional railway manager of the Sealdah division.