A tweet posted from the Railway Ministry's official handle at 12.24 AM stated that it is mandatory to download Aarogya Setu mobile app, before commencing the journey.
Indian Railways has made Aarogya Setu mobile app, the government’s contact-tracing app, mandatory for passengers to travel in special trains. According to sources quoted in an IE report, on Tuesday morning, the key officials were surprised to know the decision as there had been no discussions about making the Aarogya Setu mobile app mandatory to travel on Monday, a day before 15 Indian Railways’ Rajdhani Express type special trains resumed passenger services to and from New Delhi. According to officials, on Tuesday, the decision was communicated verbally to zonal railways, just hours before the first set of special trains departed. A tweet posted from the Railway Ministry’s official handle at 12.24 am stated that it is mandatory to download Aarogya Setu mobile app, before commencing the journey.
An Indian Railways spokesperson was quoted in the report saying that the official IRCTC website started displaying the message and even sent messages to passengers who booked tickets. However, the mobile app was not compulsory for those travelling by Shramik Special trains, he said. The Standard Operating Procedure issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs did not have any mention of the mobile app. Earlier, a PIB release stated that passengers would be “advised” to download the Aarogya Setu mobile app. According to Home Ministry sources quoted in the report, there was no MHA direction to the national transporter to make the downloading of the app mandatory.
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According to key officials in zonal railways, they had not been intimated about the decision before the tweet. On Tuesday, the message was passed to them verbally by zonal general managers, they said. The officials also claimed that there had been no discussions from the Railway Ministry about making the app mandatory for passengers. In the “Protocol regarding entry and movement of passengers”, issued by the Railway Ministry to zonal railways, Aarogya Setu was the second last point.
According to sources quoted in the report, given the last-minute nature of the decision to download the Aarogya Setu mobile app, passengers who were supposed to report to the railway station at least 90 minutes prior to their train’s departure, would have ample time to install the mobile app then and there.
According to an official, those who did not have the mobile app would be helped by railway authorities at railway stations and trains to download it on their mobile phones. On Tuesday, the officials claimed that there were no cases of passengers being denied travel on special trains for not having the Aarogya Setu mobile app on their phones. Meanwhile, it was pointed out unofficially by some within the Railway ministry that the Aarogya Setu developers were planning to introduce a feature- phone (non-smartphone) version of the mobile app as well, the report stated.