Drink and get derailed - Delhi metro to shut out drunks

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By ANANYA SENGUPTA
  • Published 8.05.13
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New Delhi, May 7: Delhi Metro will soon be out of bounds for those who have been getting off their cars and hopping on for a ride home after a drink too many.

Alcometers will weed them out.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, which caters to over 1.8 million passengers a day, has armed the Central Industrial Security Force with alcometers, or breathalysers to detect if a would-be passenger has downed alcohol beyond the permissible limit of 30mg per 100ml of blood.

While there’s no law in the country that bars people from using public transport after a drinking session, the decision, sources said, was a fallout of the December 16 gang rape of a trainee paramedic who later died. Those who assaulted her were apparently drunk.

But the alcometers have triggered outrage.

“Not everyone who drinks is a potential rapist or a molester to be kept under watch. If there was a measure for silliness, this beats all records,” laughed Rakesh Srivastava, 21, a student.

“This is completely insane,” agreed Delhi University student Sunil Thomas, recently stopped by a CISF personnel who smelt alcohol on his breath. “Are laws only for the rich? People who can drink and then sit in a chauffeur-driven car and go home? What about us?” he fumed.

CISF official Hemendra Singh shrugged. The devices, he said, would help keep away potential troublemakers. “We had carried out this experiment of using alcometers and were successful in not only identifying drunks but even convincing them to leave the station premises,” the PRO said. “Earlier, too, when we had tried without the machines, passengers used to argue with our personnel. Now they leave without any argument because the machine acts as a deterrent.”

If the test “confirms the commuter is drunk, he will not be allowed to board the train”, Singh said.

But the CISF, which has requisitioned the DMRC for 130 alcometers, hardly has any say in dealing with drunks at airports, where it is also in charge of security. Most airports in cities have restaurants that serve alcohol.

“We can take action only on complaints of airlines,” said Singh. “No domestic flights serve alcohol in India, but as far as foreign flights are concerned, we can only take action if we are summoned by the captain. If someone, while entering an airport, seems drunk and behaves in an unruly fashion, we may take necessary action as well.”

Social activist Prince Singhal, who heads CADD, or Community against Drunken Driving, said the new measure would only increase the number of road accidents.

“For activists like us it was a difficult task to raise awareness among people to exchange their cars for public transport when drunk, especially in Delhi. Now, all that will come to naught. Thousands of people every day take the Metro after dinner and drinks with friends and family, choosing not to drive. These silly rules will make them think twice before they ditch their cars,” he said.

Delhi University student Thomas, who was stopped by a CISF personnel, said: “I knew I might be smelling of alcohol, not because I had been drinking too much, but because I had been to a party where there was a lot of alcohol being thrown around. However, I chose not to use my bike. This CISF guy stopped me. It was almost 11 at night and being a student, I couldn’t afford to take a cab.”

The 21-year-old was finally allowed to take the Metro.

A tweet summed up the general outrage. “Can’t drive. Can’t take public transport. Then? Stay in bar only?” tweeted Ramesh Srivats, an alumnus of IIT-Madras and IIM-Ahmedabad, who has over one lakh followers on Twitter.

The comment was retweeted over 160 times within a few hours of being posted.