With another lockdown being speculated in Hyderabad, hundreds of people are heading to their native places in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. Fearing that they may be stuck in the city if the lockdown was re-imposed, workers and businessmen were returning to be with their family.
Using available modes of transport, people were seen leaving Hyderabad, which is witnessing a big spikes in COVID-19 cases. Though there is still no official word on re-imposing lockdown in Hyderabad. However, reports that the state cabinet will soon take a decision on this is triggering fear among migrants.
Majority of those returning home were daily wage earners, construction labourers, domestic workers, and traders. Most of them had returned to Hyderabad after the easing of the lockdown in May.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had earlier hinted that this time the lockdown will be strict with only two-hour relaxation for people to buy essentials. Health Minister Eatala Rajender has gone on record to state that the health experts suggested a 15-day lockdown in Greater Hyderabad to contain the spurt in coronavirus cases.
Checkposts at Garikapadu in Krishna district, Pondugala in Guntur, Jeelugumilli in West Godavari and Panchalingala in Kurnool district were witnessing congestion due to the traffic of people wanting to return Andhra Pradesh with their families. People were waiting in long queues for verification of documents by the authorities. Only those who obtained permission from the Andhra Pradesh government were being allowed. The officials were checking 'Spandana' e-pass, Aadhar and other documents and registering their residential addresses. Those without an e-pass and other documents were being turned away.
The officials at the checkposts were also conducting thermal screening of all people and taking swab collections of those with suspected symptoms of COVID-19. They are also stamping 'home quarantine' marks on the hands of those with symptoms.
Some people without e-passes were seen pleading with authorities to allow them and even showed their willingness to be under quarantine at government-run centres.
Even those with all the documents were being allowed entry only between 7 am and 7 pm. Some people were spending the night in their vehicles at the toll gates.
Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Gautam Sawang has appealed to people not to come to the checkposts without obtaining e-pass through state government's portal 'Spandana' to avoid inconvenience.
Officials at the inter-state checkposts said the number of people crossing into Andhra Pradesh had almost doubled during the last four to five days.
The number of vehicles at Garikapadu checkpost, for instance, has doubled to 600 daily vehicles during the last few days. Officials say over 1,100 people are entering Andhra Pradesh through this checkpoint every day. A week ago, this number was around 700.
At Pondugula, about 1,500 vehicles from Telangana are entering Andhra Pradesh every day. The number of people crossing the border into Andhra has increased to 4,000 against 2,500 to 3,000 a week ago.
At Panthangi toll plaza on the Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway, the number of daily vehicles heading towards Andhra has gone up to 25,000 from about 15,000 a few days ago.