Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) shares sunk 5 per cent to hit the lower circuit as the government has stopped passenger trains, the lifeline of the country, in order to control the spiralling Covid 19 cases and prevent train travel by panic-struck individuals. The stock of Indian Railways’ catering arm froze at the lower circuit of 5 per cent at Rs 903 at opening bell as the stoppage of trains, and the resultant closure of its food plazas, refreshment rooms, Jan Aahars and cell kitchens across railway stations in the country, will make a huge dent on its revenues.
The railways on Sunday announced the suspension of all passenger services from March 22 midnight to March 31 midnight as part of the government’s measures to control the spread of Covid. Trains which had started their journey prior to 4 am on March 22 will, however, be allowed to complete their run to the destinations. And around 9,000 goods trains that run every day will operate as usual, the government said.
The suspension of countrywide train services was necessitated by the discovery of some Covid 19 cases among railway passengers and frenzy among hordes of migrant workers to leave metro cities and return to their hometowns.
IRCTC shares have plunged more than half in a mere 17 sessions alone.
The Indian Railways operates 13,500 passenger and mail or long-distance trains every day. All services, including suburban trains, have been discontinued till this month-end, the railways ministry said in an order on Sunday.
The benchmark indices hit the lower circuit of 10 per cent this morning and trading was halted for 45 minutes, after India entered a lockdown joining several countries in their fight against the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
At 11:30 am, post the resumption of trading, the S&P BSE Sensex was at 26,455, lower by 3,421 points and the broader NSE Nifty 50 benchmark was at 7,765, down 978 points.