Border officials find it tough

Officers across districts bordering Maharashtra are facing several challenges in letting in only those who have a COVID-19 negative certificate.

A series of check-posts have been put up across the inter-State border in Belagavi, Bagalkot, Vijayapura, Kalaburagi, and Bidar. Kalaburagi has the highest number at five, Belagavi has four, Bidar has three, while Vijayapura has two. Posters have been put up in English and Kannada that a RT-PCR negative certificate not older than 72 hours was mandatory for entering Karnataka.

But officials at the check-posts are grappling with the influx of vehicles into Karnataka in the backdrop of the rising COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra.

The primary problems are traffic congestion and the long queues of vehicles at the border. Across the region, traffic snarls are a common sight at the junctions where the check-posts have been set up.

There was some confusion about private vehicles as the original notification by the State government asked officers to conduct random checks of private individual vehicles. However, in some districts the check-post personnel were asked to check every private vehicle. By Monday evening, some passengers had crossed into Karnataka without being checked.

As per the guidelines, officers allowed vehicles, from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat or Rajasthan that were only passing through Maharashtra into Karnataka.

Officers also allowed vehicles that were going to other States and only passing through Karnataka.

State buses of Karnataka and Maharashtra were stopped and each passenger was asked for a RT-PCR test report. Some passengers claimed they were not aware of the guidelines.

In some buses, only a few passengers had the certificates. This created confusion when the police asked the driver to take the bus back, as those with negative RT-PCR certificates argued that their journey could not be cut short.

The police had to ask them to get into other buses that were entering Karnataka. Goods vehicles and those carrying essential commodities were allowed entry.

In Vijayapura, the check-posts are at Dhulkhed and Solapur Cross. Ongoing road works and diversions of vehicles from the national highway to arterial roads made it the officials’work more difficult.

“Many are requesting us that they have to come to Karnataka for medical emergencies or for trade. We are telling them we are helpless,” said a senior officer.

Kalaburagi Deputy Commissioner Vijaya Jyothsna said five check-posts were set up in Hiroli, Khajuri, and Nimbal villages in Aland taluk, and Ballurgi and Mashal villages in Afzalpur taluk.

Bidar Deputy Commissioner R. Ramachandran said check-posts were set up at Chandakapur. Wanamarapalli, and Kamal Nagar.

In Belagavi, the posts were set up at Kuganoli, Kagwad, Athani, and Sadalaga. Deputy Commissioner M.G. Hiremath said he and Superintendent of Police Laxman Nimbargi had asked officers in Maharashtra to restrict the movement of persons without the RT-PCR negative certificates.

“We have written to our counterparts to make them aware about having a RT-PCR negative certificate. It is easier to stop them from leaving their destination, rather than sending them back from the border,” he said. He said the temples at Saundatti and Chinchali, which attracted devotees from Maharashtra, were closed indefinitely.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 5:24:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/border-officials-find-it-tough/article33906662.ece

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