MYSURU: High drama and confusion bringing back memories of the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic prevailed at the Bavali border with Kerala as authorities prevented those without COVID-19 negative RT PCR certificates including trucks from entering Karnataka.
Even though the state government had announced that RT PCR tests are mandatory for those coming from Kerala and Maharashtra to enter the state, many travelers were caught off-guard when the restrictions on the borders kicked in on Monday.
Many vehicles, especially trucks which did not expect the restrictions to be strict, lined up on the Kerala side forming a huge pile-up stretching to over seven km on the road running through the reserve forest.
The situation worsened after the travelers picked up an argument with officials and health workers prompting representatives and police officers to turn up and the Wayanad DC rang up the Mysuru DC. Several individuals blocked vehicles from Karnataka entering Kerala in retaliation.
It is learned that the flashpoint was over the lack of communication between the district administrations about the blanket ban even on trucks entering the state. Many pointed out the risk of vehicles piling up in the roads that pass through reserve forests especially with the threat of forest fires looming.
According to HD Kote Taluk Health Officer Dr Ravi Kumar, after discussions with higher officials, as a temporary relief, the vehicles were allowed to enter Karnataka for the day after thermal scanning.
He added that relaxations have been provided for trucks carrying essentials for today and tomorrow after which they will also have to provide negative RT PCR certificates to enter the state. Ravi Kumar also said that they have asked authorities in Kerala to set up a check post at Kattikulam in Kerala itself to check whether the travelers are carrying negative RT PCR certificates to prevent a pile-up at roads inside the forest.
Meanwhile, Mysuru district in charge minister ST Somashekhar convened a meeting of police and health officials to discuss the matter. While insisting on strict enforcement of new guidelines of travel from Kerala to the state, the minister suggested that authorities use antigen testing and screening at the border for trucks and vehicles carrying essentials and vegetables for ensuring their smooth movement.