Thiruvananthapuram: The evacuation of Keralites stranded in the Gulf countries is proceeding without any hitch, but a large number of people remain stuck at the state’s borders, unable to make their onward journey as they have failed to secure proper passes.
Reports from border points, especially Thalapadi on the border with Karnataka and Walayar on the Tamil Nadu border, spoke about complete chaos at the check points. While a large number of people had manged to reach the border, they were not allowed to proceed as they could not produce passes to enter Kerala.
Many of them complained that they had undertaken the difficult journey without the passes as the Kerala government website remained unresponsive for an unusually long time or simply froze.
Women and students in distress in various parts of the country, including Delhi and Mumbai, told news channels about their desperate situation as they did not have enough money to make the journey or even buy food.
Harrowing stories were being narrated about the plight of stranded people. A group of nurses, which included pregnant women, said they were not getting proper food or medication and were facing the threat of infection due to high occurrence of the disease around their places of stay.
Private vehicle owners were demanding up to three lakh rupees to make a trip from places like Delhi, which the stranded people said they could not afford to pay. They have made distress call to all possible contacts, but without any success.
With complaints pouring in from different cities, the Kerala authorities resumed the issuance of passes after they had briefly decided to stop the process as there was heavy build-up of traffic on the check points.
Opposition leaders Ramesh Chennithala and P K Kunhalikutty complained about the lack of proper homework by the state authorities in providing smooth passage for the stranded people. A large number of people were struggling to find vehicles for onward travel to various places in Kerala.
But compared to the chaotic situation with regard to the flow of people by road, the air evacuation has been proceeding smoothly.
The first flights from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Bahrain landed at Karipur airport in Kozhikode and Nedumbasseri in Kochi and the drill for the transfer of the passengers to isolation centres and home quarantine was completed with clockwork precision.
The passengers had undergone rapid tests to determine if they had COVID-19 at Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but those coming from other airports only underwent thermal scanning. All passengers were subjected to proper checks on arrival.
About 10 passengers were sent to isolation due to high fever, with a couple of them being suspected of COVID-19 infection. All pregnant women and children under the age of 10, as well as aged people were allowed to go home, but with strict instructions on home quarantine.
Passengers were driven to their respective districts for isolation at designated quarantine centres. Ambulances were in readiness at all airports to take those who needed urgent medical attention to hospitals.