Taking a street journey from Delhi to Chennai throughout COVID-19 lockdown

I needed to spend 14 days in quarantine in Delhi after arriving from San Francisco, USA, on what was most likely the final flight into India earlier than the clamp down on worldwide air-travel began on March 22.

The lockdown adopted on March 25, and I needed to stay in Delhi for one more 21 days. On this time, two pals and I made a decision to hunt police permission to take a street journey by a non-public taxi to Chennai.

We have been knowledgeable that such permission could be granted solely within the occasion of a medical emergency, or within the case of a dying, which required us to journey, and we met neither of those circumstances. However the truth that we had accomplished obligatory quarantine, and had examined adverse for COVID-19, meant that we may journey house.

We have been issued a discharge certificates from quarantine, a adverse check report from well being authorities and a quarantine launch go by the Sub-Divisional Justice of the Peace. The journey go bore every of our names, its validity, the explanation for journey, the registration quantity and make of the automobile in addition to the identify of the driving force. The go additionally indicated that the automobile was to return earlier than the validity expired.

Nevertheless, discovering a automobile to drive us to Chennai from Delhi was no imply effort. Taxi-hiring firms have been cautious just because there was no meals, lodging and public comfort. Even a puncture restore store was unlikely to be open.

The skinny crimson line

  • In Tamil Nadu, the State e-pass management room has been issuing permits since Might 2 by way of the portal https://tnepass.tnega.org.
  • People wishing to journey into and out of Tamil Nadu should make use of this portal; the allow is processed in 24 hours and a colour-coded go with a QR embed is issued topic to standards fulfilment.
  • An e-pass for journey is issued to a person solely beneath 4 classes: dying/funeral, marriage ceremony, medical emergencies (regarding a blood relative) or return of stranded folks.
  • Related paperwork like dying certificates, marriage ceremony invitation, medical certificates issued by the district Medical Officer or Superintendent confirming the character of emergency, and, when you’ve got accomplished quarantine, a adverse COVID-19 check report and a quarantine discharge certificates from the Sub-Divisional Justice of the Peace, District Justice of the Peace or town Company Commissioner (in case of Chennai) is required.
  • Apart from, people coming into Tamil Nadu from different States will probably be put in obligatory quarantine for 14 days. Just one software per particular person is entertained. In Tamil Nadu, solely two folks plus a driver are allowed to journey in a automobile or jeep. No pillion rider when you want to commute on a two-wheeler.

Lastly, Umesh Singh, a small-time taxi operator in Delhi, who we acquired in contact with by a relative, was prepared to supply his solely taxi — an SUV — with two of his drivers, the amiable Bablu and Prem Kumar, to drive us to Chennai.

After we contracted Umesh’s taxi, we have been unaware that one driver could be requested to go away as a result of bodily distancing norm, however we realised it shortly thereafter and jettisoned Prem Kumar at Delhi itself. Neither the driving force nor us have been conscious of the route, so we relied on Google Maps.

Plotting the route

Essentially the most handy route would take us by Agra, Gwalior, Jhansi, Nagpur, Adilabad, Hyderabad, Ongole, Nellore and on to Chennai. Since solely gasoline bunks could be open, we have been suggested to hold sufficient meals and liquids to final the whole journey.

It was additionally steered that we drive continuous as halting enroute could expose us to COVID-19 an infection, if we got here into contact with others. We have been to hold cleaning soap and an ample variety of bottles of hand sanitisers. The lodging, the place we stayed in Delhi, was extraordinarily variety and packed us meals that included sandwiches, vegetable kati rolls, fruits, dozens of consuming water bottles and juices.

As we have been not sure of the provision of public conveniences, the resort steered that we eat gentle over the 37-hour journey (per Google Maps) to Chennai. What we discovered outstanding have been the general public conveniences at every gasoline outlet, and the willingness to allow us to use it.

We commenced our journey to Chennai at 7.30 am on April 27 from Delhi, handed into Uttar Pradesh by Faridabad in Haryana, and headed in the direction of the Agra bypass.

An empty highway in New Delhi

As there have been no autos on the freeway aside from just a few lorries, we hoped we may journey easily. At Agra, we have been hailed down at a ‘verify level’, quickly created in every State and at district entry factors to ensure autos have crucial journey permits, passengers travelling in autos adhere to bodily distancing norms and, in some instances, to do a fast thermal check on the spot.

As our go specified the vacation spot as Chennai, we weren’t allowed to enter a city and needed to keep on with journeying on the freeway. We have been stopped for comparable checks in Gwalior, Jhansi and in Nagpur. Google Maps indicated 19 hours because the journey time between Delhi and Nagpur.

Misplaced and located

Nevertheless, lack of correct street indicators misled us, and we went off the freeway between Jhansi and Nagpur.

As we handed the city of Sagar whereas headed in the direction of Nagpur, two totally different signboards — one diverting us off the freeway and one other indicating that we proceed — caught us off guard. All this meant we needed to drive continuous for 20 hours to succeed in Nagpur. We have been exhausted, as was our lone driver Bablu, and so we managed to request a resort to provide us two rooms to relaxation for just a few hours as a result of we had the requisite permissions.

Migrant workers had to walk hundreds of miles to return to their home town during the lockdown

Migrant staff needed to stroll lots of of miles to return to their house city throughout the lockdown
| Picture Credit score: Mahesh Kumar A

An affiliate of my good friend, who met us close to the freeway in Nagpur as we set off in the direction of Telangana, introduced us meals for the rest of the journey. We headed in the direction of Adilabad subsequent, anticipating the journey to take us 4 hours.

On the Adilabad verify level, nonetheless, the scrutiny was very thorough — our paperwork with pictures was despatched to the Collectorate for approval, pending which we couldn’t proceed our journey.

Whereas some who had crossed the verify level just a few days earlier informed us to anticipate a wait time of three to 5 hours, we appeared to have a little bit of luck. Our paperwork have been cleared in an hour, and we continued.

We stopped at a closed dhaba enroute our subsequent cease, Ongole. We requested a person, who appeared like its proprietor, if we may stand beneath the cover and have our meal. He was thoughtful, and provided us a few chairs to take a seat and eat our meal. Whereas there, we seen a number of folks, males, ladies and even younger kids, strolling alongside the freeway; we had noticed them within the morning too on our journey from Nagpur to Adilabad.

A well being inspector, who was sitting on one of many chairs on the dhaba, defined that these have been migrant labourers returning to their villages in Uttar Pradesh from Andhra Pradesh on foot, travelling, in some instances, almost 1,300 kilometres. It was a heart-wrenching sight.

CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU, 11/04/2020 : A migrant worker carrying heavy luggage walks on the Chennai -Tiruchi National Highway in Mamandur on April 11, 2020, during the 21-day government imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19.
Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU, 11/04/2020 : A migrant employee carrying heavy baggage walks on the Chennai -Tiruchi Nationwide Freeway in Mamandur on April 11, 2020, throughout the 21-day authorities imposed nationwide lockdown as a safety measure in opposition to the COVID-19.
Picture: B. Velankanni Raj
| Picture Credit score: B_VELANKANNI RAJ

Some dhabas have been cooking and providing them free meals, the well being inspector informed us. Alongside the way in which, lorries have been stopping to assist them: although they have been laden with items, the drivers have been permitting folks to climb onto the tarpaulin and journey a long way, if not the entire, with out charging them any cash.

Welcome break

We continued our journey in the direction of Chennai, however coming into Andhra Pradesh from Telangana was an disagreeable expertise. We have been detained on the verify level, and it took nearly two hours earlier than we have been permitted to proceed.

Thus the journey from Nagpur to Ongole took us one other 20 hours, however we have been lucky to be lodged for just a few hours by a benevolent mill proprietor, a good friend of a good friend, in his visitor home on the Ongole freeway. We left for Chennai early subsequent morning, hoping to succeed in in six hours.

Nevertheless, we have been as soon as once more stopped at a verify level between Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu at Gummidipoondi, and have been subjected to comparable questions and doc scrutiny. Regardless of providing all requisite proof of excellent well being, we have been requested to attend for clearance from well being authorities that delayed our entry into Chennai by three hours.

After we reached lastly on April 29 at 7 pm, it had been 49 hours of travelling; we had travelled 2,200 kilometres, burnt 150 litres of gasoline and spent ₹2,300 in toll charges.

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