Chaos at Delhi-Faridabad Border as Haryana Seals Borders, Khattar Says Won't Allow Infection to Enter

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New Delhi/Chandigarh: Several people returning to their homes in Faridabad from Delhi were turned back amid chaos and confusion on Wednesday while vegetable supplies to Azadpur mandi were severely disrupted as Haryana sealed all its border points with the national capital citing emergence of fresh coronavirus cases in its districts adjoining Delhi.

Maintaining that prevention is better than cure, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said tough measures were required at the state's border points with the national capital. "We will not allow this (coronavirus) infection to enter our state from Delhi".

In a televised address, Khattar said COVID-19 cases are either linked to those who are employed in Delhi, their family members or their contacts.

Prevention is better than cure... bitter medicine is important to cure the disease and we will have to stop this cross-border movement.

If we do not do this, then we will not be able to contain the spread of coronavirus," he said, adding 28 cases have been detected in the past six days in the districts of Sonipat, Jhajjar, Gurgaon and Faridabad, which are part of the NCR(National Capital Region).

Haryana will be in a comfortable position as far as COVID-19 cases are concerned if the borders stay sealed for 15-20 days, according to Home Minister Anil Vij, who is also the state's health minister.

He said the daily movement of employees working in Delhi to their residences in Haryana increases the risk of the COVID-19 spread.

At the toll plaza on the Haryana side, there was heavy deployment of police and paramilitary personnel to ensure that the restrictions are in place.

Allowed to enter the national capital in the morning, several people were stranded by evening on the Delhi-Faridabad border, as they waited to go back to their homes after the Haryana government sealed the entry and exit points of the satellite city.

Those among the stranded at Badarpur in southeast Delhi included civic body staffers, ones with valid movement permissions, while a few also had medical emergencies.

With no accommodation options, many faced the difficult question of where to stay for the night.

Faridabad resident Kuldeep (23), who works in South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), said nobody stopped him in the morning when he made an entry into Delhi.

"When I came to my office in morning around 9 am, nobody stopped or informed me about the sealing of the bordering area. Now, when I want to go back to my home in Faridabad, the police are not allowing us to pass through the border.

They are sending me back to Delhi where I have no option of accommodation," said Kuldeep, who has been working with the SDMC for the last three years.

With no other choice, Kuldeep, who goes by his first name, said he was heading back to his office.

Like Kuldeep, Ramanand (51), who works as an accountant in Delhi, said he too was stuck in the national capital and he had no place to stay.

"The authorities should have informed us before sealing the borders. We were not aware about this move earlier. I live in Faridabad and work in Delhi. I have no one here where I can go and stay for a while. I will wait at the border till the time police allow us to go to my house," he said.

Avdesh Kumar (38), who works in an Indian Oil gas agency, said he lives near the border and was waiting for police to let him go.

"This is happening due to lack of coordination. I work in the area which falls under essential category. I was asked to come to the office.

"The authorities should understand and at least let us go to back to our residences as we have no place to stay here(Delhi)," Kumar said.

Faridabad district has reported 46 coronavirus cases and is closely behind other worst-hit districts in Haryana-- Gurgaon (51) and Nuh (57).

According to an order issued by Faridabad's Deputy Commissioner Yash Pal on Tuesday night, movement of government employees and regular people who commute daily from other districts or states has been stopped with effect from 12 noon on April 29.

"Doctors, paramedics, bank employees and police are allowed to enter the district only till 12 pm of April 29 with their valid identity cards after which no relaxation for movement will be given," the order said.

Those working in neighbouring places like Delhi that includes doctors, paramedics, bank employees and police personnel will have to make arrangements to stay at their workplace, it said, adding the directions will remain applicable till May 3 when the coronavirus-induced national lockdown is due to end.

However, ambulances, vehicles transporting essential supplies and those involved in banking and gas services will be allowed to enter the district.

Adil Ahmad Khan, chairman of Azadpur Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee, said there was no supply of vegetables from Sonipat to Asia's largest wholesale market for fruits and vegetables.

"On Wednesday, 5,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables were supplied to Azadpur mandi. Since the lockdown has been announced, supply of 7,000 to 8,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables per day was being recorded at the mandi," Khan said.

Vij said the Haryana government has offered to the Delhi government some of its complexes in the national capital to house the state's residents employed there and having to commute daily from Faridabad.

Vij said Chief Minister Khattar had a telephonic talk with his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday evening during which he raised the matter with the AAP leader.

Asked if Haryana has offered some of its complexes, including those of Irrigation Department and PWD flats in the national capital to accommodate state residents employed in Delhi, Vij said, Yes, the chief minister had a word in this regard while speaking to Kejriwal over phone. We have offered some of our complexes..."