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Social distancing norms go for a toss at Chennai airport as flyers crowd at immigration counters

In a video purportedly taken by a flyer, people were seen pushing each other, with some of them not even wearing masks properly. The rush was following five flights arriving at the airport back-to-back.

By: Express Web Desk | Chennai |
Updated: September 9, 2021 12:04:58 pm
A screengrab from the video showing the crowd at Chennai airport.

Social distancing norms went for a toss at the Arignar Anna International Airport in Chennai on Wednesday as flyers were seen standing in long queues at the immigration counters.

In a video purportedly taken by a fellow passenger, people were seen pushing each other, with some of them not even wearing masks properly. The rush was following five flights arriving at the airport back-to-back.

Speaking with indianexpress.com, D Sharad Kumar, the director at Chennai Airport, said they have taken measures to prevent such a rush in the future by increasing the number of counters. He said that although there are about 19 counters at the arrival section, only six were functioning on Wednesday.

“Initially, the traffic was very low. So, there were fewer immigration officers as per the requirement.  Suddenly, there has been an increase (in traffic) and at around 3-4 am in the morning (on Wednesday), five flights came at the same time. That’s what led to the crowding,” Kumar said.

He added, “We have now taken steps to avert such a situation in future. Firstly, four more counters have been made operational to prevent any rush. Secondly, the issue has been with the registration for the RT-PCR sample. People are not using the QR code in the departure area. They are registering themselves after reaching the airport which is adding to the time that is taken to clear each passenger. As such, we have now put volunteers and pasted the QR codes on the wall near the area to hasten the process. I have also requested the government to provide more manpower. We are also ensuring that all 19 counters are running during the peak hours. I have also informed the airlines to ask passengers to complete the registration at their points of origin.”

Earlier, Sivaganga Congress MP Karti Chidambaram had shared a tweet that showed a picture of trolleys covered in dust near the international terminal. “Chennai Airport is an embarrassment to our state and city,” he wrote.

The Chennai Airport, however, had quickly responded to the tweet claiming that the new passenger baggage trolleys are stacked at the unused international arrival side as traffic was very low.

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