Odisha seals border with West Bengal

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(Eds: Recasting overnight story) Bhubaneswar, Apr 24 (PTI) The Odisha government sealed its border with West Bengal where a triple mutant variant of COVID-19 has reportedly surfaced, and intensified vigil along the inter-state boundary, officials said.

The state government on Friday 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, he said.

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 that 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 added.

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.

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 bridegroom's family was stopped at the Lakhannath check post on NH-60, police said.

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 have also intensified vigil at 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 through platform no. 1, Nayak said.

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

The police have 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 have asked owners of hotels and lodges to keep a tab on people coming from Bengal,' said Puri's Superintendent of Police Kanwar Vishal Singh. PTI AAM MM SOM SOM