Doing a Trump: States build walls, trenches on borders

Doing a Trump: States build walls, trenches on borders

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Lockdown: Tamil Nadu builds walls at Andhra border to stop movement
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It is one thing to put up temporary barricades at state borders to stop people from crossing over amid the coronavirus pandemic. It becomes a completely different story when states take a leaf from US President Donald Trump’s playbook and try to seal themselves off from their neighbours by building walls and digging trenches.
Officials in Tamil Nadu’s border district of Vellore surprised everyone recently by building two concrete walls overnight on roads near the Andhra border. Each wall stood three feet in width and five feet in height. Not only did this hinder traffic to Vellore, famous for its super-speciality medical services, it also blocked the movement of at least 10,000 litres of milk to AP. After the walls came up, dairy farmers in Vellore were forced to take a circuitous route.

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Meanwhile, Odisha had dug up some border roads after Srikakulam district in AP started reporting Covid-19 cases recently. The digging went largely unnoticed until Monday when a pregnant tribal woman had to be carried on a bamboo shaft across the trench to reach a hospital. A video of Savara Vanisri of Althi village being carried went viral on social media.
Andhra dials Odisha, TN over road sealing
Further to the north, NCR’s vision of seamless travel and movement of people also seems to be unravelling with the pandemic. Last week, both Noida and Ghaziabad decided to seal their borders with Delhi. On Sunday, Noida went a step further, saying that it would not issue travel passes to medical staff not associated with Covid duty. On Monday, it partially relented and announced a tie-up with cab aggregator Uber for non-emergency medical transport. Faridabad in Haryana on Monday has announced “tightening” of its border with Delhi; even government employees who work in Delhi but live in the NCR city have been told to make living arrangements in the capital within the 72 hours.

There are moves afoot to seal other state borders as well. Goa CM Pramod Sawant on Monday said he has recommended to PM Modi that its borders with Maharashtra and Karnataka stay shut even after May 3. Back in Andhra, officials were quick to object to the sealing drive, calling up their counterparts in TN and Odisha on Monday and telling them not to put up walls and dig up highways as these could lead to a crisis during a medical emergency.
(With additional reporting by Shalabh, Snehil Sinha and Manu Aiyappa)
Read this report in Bengali
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