The Ministry of Railways on Monday night made it mandatory for passengers travelling in special trains to download the Aarogya Setu mobile application. Those who do have the application may be asked to download it after their arrival, according to PTI.

Besides, all passengers will have to go through a Covid-19 screening process before commencing their journey, and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the trains. Usage of facemask is also mandatory.

The Indian Railways will run 15 special trains to and from New Delhi from Tuesday. All these trains will be connecting major cities to New Delhi including Howrah, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru among others.

The guidelines issued by the Railways on Monday had said that all passengers were “advised” to download and use the Aarogya Setu application. However, in a late night tweet, the Railways said downloading the app was compulsory. “Indian Railways is going to start few passenger train services,” it tweeted. “It is mandatory for passengers to download the Aarogya Setu app in their mobile phones, before commencing their journey.”

Unidentified officials told PTI that the app was made mandatory after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued a letter, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with chief ministers. However, they said there was no clarity yet on how the app will be enforced.

According to The Indian Express, officials in the zonal railways had not been made aware about the move, and they had no discussions with the ministry about making the app compulsory for travellers. The report said that there was confusion in the Railway ministry after the tweet. Key officials denied that such a move was being contemplated while admitting that they were unaware of the late-night tweet.

The Narendra Modi-led government has been promoting the Aarogya Setu app as an important tool in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, primarily for contact tracing. So far, the app has been installed on 9.8 crore smartphones. The Ministry of Home Affairs has said that installing the app will also be mandatory for people living in containment zones.

The Opposition has been targeting the Centre over the usage of the application. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had said that the app is a “sophisticated surveillance system” with security and privacy concerns. Union Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad rejected the charges, saying the Aarogya Setu app is “absolutely robust, safe and secure in terms of privacy protection and data security”.

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