Tamil Nadu

Estate workers’ agitation halts traffic on TN-Kerala border in Theni district

Vehicles waiting at the check-post at Bodi Mettu near the Kerala border in Theni district, Tamil Nadu

Vehicles waiting at the check-post at Bodi Mettu near the Kerala border in Theni district, Tamil Nadu

Continuing their agitation for the second consecutive day, a large number of workers from Theni district resorted to a wait-in stir at the Bodi Mettu and Mundal check posts here on Thursday.

As a result, vehicular movement on the ghat section went for a toss. The long queue of vehicles which had piled up on both sides could be cleared only after three hours.

Police said that the workers, who travelled in jeeps from different locations in Theni district, went to work for daily wages to private cardamom estates in Idukki district in Kerala. As many as 500 jeep drivers depended on the daily wage earners’ travel from TN to Kerala. The daily trips on both ends had been affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. When the TN government had relaxed the curfew, the officials at the TN border, however, refused to permit vehicles, S. Mathivanan, a jeep driver claimed.

The officials insisted on vaccination doses and urged the travellers to display the certificates on their mobile phones. “If they did not possess the vaccine certificates, they wanted the RT-PCR negative test reports,” he said.

If the travellers said they had taken the first vaccine dose and were waiting for the second dose, the health department officials insisted on the negative report. The protesters said they had no money and the only daily wage would assure them of food at home, and refused to leave.

Senior officials from the police and district administration held talks with their counterparts in Idukki and it was decided to permit the vehicles in phases on Thursday. From Friday, the workers were told that permission would be accorded only for those with two doses of vaccination to proceed to Kerala. There would be no compromise on letting people criss-cross without vaccination, the health officials explained to the workers.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 3:58:08 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/estate-workers-agitation-halts-traffic-on-tn-kerala-border-in-theni-district/article35875423.ece