New Delhi: In a departure from tradition, the Red Ribbon Express, a special train which travels across the country to spread awareness on HIV/AIDS, gave the capital a miss on World AIDS Day Thursday.
Officials in the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) said the "organisation has been busy with projects".
"This year, everybody was busy with projects and preparations in various parts of the country. We could not plan a timely arrival for the Red Ribbon train," an official from NACO told IANS on condition of anonymity.
The crimson-red-and-pink painted train was flagged off Dec 1, 2008 to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS, a disease that affects nearly 2.5 million people in India.
The train, with doctors on board, provides testing, counselling and treatment facilities.
While officials are tight-lipped about what exactly kept the ministry of health and NACO busy, union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the train will be arriving in the national capital Jan 12 on National Youth Day.
"Every year, we have the train either arriving or leaving the capital on World AIDS Day. But this time, we want to dedicate the train to the youth. So it will arrive in January," Azad said at World AIDS Day celebrations here.
According to officials in the health ministry, the train has covered 152 stations and reached out to nearly 80 lakh people. An amount of Rs.10 crore has so far been spent on the train.
The ministry now plans to run `Red Ribbon Buses` on the lines of the express.