Odisha seals border with West Bengal


Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Friday sealed its border with West Bengal where a triple mutant variant of COVID-19 has reportedly surfaced, and intensified vigil along the inter-state border.

The state government sealed the routes to the neighbouring state which pass through Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts, a senior official said.

The state police has also intensified vigil at three major check posts.

However, there are many porous village routes through which people can enter the coastal state from West Bengal.

People who are crossing the border through the three check posts are asked to furnish their negative reports of RT-PCR, done 48 hours before travelling, or their vaccination certificates.

After entering Odisha, they have to be quarantined for 14 days.

Balasore district magistrate-cum- collector K Sudarshan Chakravarty inspected several border areas and supervised the arrangements.

He said, all those returning from West Bengal will be quarantined either in institutions or paid facilities for not having RT-PCR negative reports or complete vaccination certificates.

Those carrying the required documents will also have to undergo home quarantine for 14 days, he said.

Meanwhile, the sealing of the border sparked tension in certain areas as the sudden closure inconvenienced the local people, who had gone to the neighbouring state for marketing.

At least two marriage parties were stopped by the police on NH -60 in Balasore as they did not possess COVID-19 negative reports.

Debasis Dey of Dantan in West Bengal was on his way to Motiganj in Balasore when the bridegrooms family was stopped at the Lakhannath check-post on NH 60, police said.

Members of the marriage party could not produce RT-PCR negative reports.

Abas Senapati of Belda in West Medinipur district of West Bengal, was on his way to Paradip when his family members were also stopped.

The police has also intensified vigil in bus stands and railway stations, Bhubaneswar Railway Station director Chittaranjan Nayak said.

Exit from Platform No. 6 of BHubaneswar railway station has been stopped while arrangements for both entry and exit have been made at Platform No. 1, Nayak said.

A total of 30 trains from West Bengal cross Odisha of which nine trains come to Bhubaneswar with around 5,000-7,000 passengers daily, he said.

The police has also tightened enforcement in the holy town of Puri as a large number of people visit the Jagannath Dham.

“We are alert and the police has asked owners of hotels and lodges to keep a tab on people coming from Bengal,” said Puri SP Kanwar Vishal Singh.

Speaking on the triple mutant variant of Coronavirus, director, Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), Bhubaneswar, Ajay Parida Parida said, “No such virus has so far been found in Odisha.”

He, however, said that the triple mutant variant of COVID-19 is more infectious than other strains.

Meanwhile, a day before the start of the weekend shutdown in 20 districts from Saturday, the state government announced one-hour relaxation on Saturday and Sunday.

Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) PK Jena said the weekend shutdown will be relaxed from 5 am to 6 am for morning walkers.

Jena said the weekend shutdown will continue along with daily night curfew.

The state government has announced a weekend shutdown in all urban areas across the state with effect from April 24 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Odisha Police said that a total of 15 tankers containing medical oxygen from Rourkela, Jajpur, and Angul district have been dispatched to Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad, Indore, Pune, Mumbai, and Nagpur in the last 24 hours.

A dedicated corridor has been formed by Odisha Police for prompt and unhindered movement of the tankers, a statement issued by the police said.

A Special Cell was formed under ADG Law and Order Y K Jethwa, ADG (L&O) as the Nodal Officer for coordinated action for loading and transportation of medical oxygen by Odisha to states facing a deficit supply of the life-saving gas.

Three Indian Air Force planes reached here with eight empty oxygen tankers to take medical oxygen from the state.

The state government had earlier sealed the border with Chhattisgarh. (PTI)