CHAOS AND mismanagement prevailed on day one of the implementation of restricted movement at Panchkula borders, as rules of the order passed by the District Magistrate were flouted at several check posts in border areas.
No check was kept to ensure the compulsory download of the Aarogya Setu app on the first day. While thermal screening has been mandated at all entries, it was not found at several entry gates and no record of the government vehicles’ movement was kept.
Panchkula shares its borders with Chandigarh at eight places and with Punjab at 20 places.
Five of the eight borders with Chandigarh were completely sealed and movement for all those exempted was allowed only at three places, including the housing board entry gate, the Singh Dwar entry gate and from Dolphin Chowk.
Those entering from Singh Dwar or Housing Board were not screened for temperature till at least late noon and no record of government vehicles’ movement was maintained. “We are small people and cannot question government vehicles which are in a hurry,” said a police official posted at the housing board gate.
Moreover, nobody at these entry gates made sure that Aarogya Setu app was being downloaded by those who crossed the borders as “it took a lot of time and there were long jams forming,” another police official said.
The data accessed by The Indian Express showed that as many as 250 vehicles, not including government and healthcare vehicles, were permitted movement from the housing board entry gate of the district. The compiled data from all others were not made available by the district administration despite requests.
Meanwhile, those with medical emergencies and who had come with medical prescriptions from Panchkula-based hospitals were also allowed to enter.
People turned away
Amid several disruptions, people were also suddenly allowed to enter whenever the queue of vehicles became long, with cars of officials waiting at the end.
However, many were returned too.
Even those with passes, including vegetable vendors and supply trucks from Chandigarh were turned away and their passes were cancelled.
People at the border to reach their workplace were also returned as they were told to either make living arrangements here or not come at all.
Healthcare officials housed in Panchkula
As many as 125 health department officials were provided temporary housing in Panchkula’s government rest house. While 21 are putting up at Red Bishop, 44 are residing at PWD. At least 60 have been provided accommodation at Jatt Bhawan.
Surveillance and sanitisation measures increased
Along with the order of restricted cross-boundary movement, measures of surveillance and sanitisation saw an increase. The densely populated areas and villages adjoining those of Chandigarh and Mohali borders witnessed an increase in the number of police officials deployment and sanitisation drives.
Sanitisation of vehicles were also done by the Municipal Corporation at a few entry gates of Panchkula.
The order issued Friday which came into effect Saturday 10 am,was taken in view of a sudden rise in COVID-19 cases in adjoining UT Chandigarh and Punjab’s Mohali district. The order had stated that all entry and exits to the district will be completely sealed and the movement of those who fall under essential services will also be subject to some conditions.
While the order passed by he DM did not mention any specific date till which the orders will remain in place, a press statement issued by the Panchkula administration stated that “orders will be strictly followed till May 17.”