Taking a road trip from Delhi to Chennai during COVID-19 lockdown

I had to spend 14 days in quarantine in Delhi after arriving from San Francisco, USA, on what was in all probability 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 had to stay in Delhi for one more 21 days. In this time, two buddies and I made a decision to search police permission to take a road trip by a non-public taxi to Chennai.

We had been knowledgeable that such permission could be granted solely within the occasion of a medical emergency, or within the case of a loss of life, which required us to journey, and we met neither of those situations. But the truth that we had accomplished necessary quarantine, and had examined detrimental for COVID-19, meant that we may journey dwelling.

We had been issued a discharge certificates from quarantine, a detrimental check report from well being authorities and a quarantine launch move by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate. The journey move bore every of our names, its validity, the explanation for journey, the registration quantity and make of the car in addition to the title of the motive force. The move additionally indicated that the car was to return earlier than the validity expired.

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

The skinny pink line

  • In Tamil Nadu, the State e-pass management room has been issuing permits since May 2 through the portal https://tnepass.tnega.org.
  • Individuals wishing to journey into and out of Tamil Nadu have to make use of this portal; the allow is processed in 24 hours and a colour-coded move with a QR embed is issued topic to standards fulfilment.
  • An e-pass for journey is issued to a person solely underneath 4 classes: loss of life/funeral, marriage ceremony, medical emergencies (regarding a blood relative) or return of stranded individuals.
  • Relevant paperwork like loss of life certificates, marriage ceremony invitation, medical certificates issued by the district Medical Officer or Superintendent confirming the character of emergency, and, in case you have accomplished quarantine, a detrimental COVID-19 check report and a quarantine discharge certificates from the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, District Magistrate or town Corporation Commissioner (in case of Chennai) is required.
  • Besides, people coming into Tamil Nadu from different States shall be put in necessary quarantine for 14 days. Only one utility per particular person is entertained. In Tamil Nadu, solely two individuals plus a driver are allowed to journey in a automobile or jeep. No pillion rider if you want to commute on a two-wheeler.

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

When we contracted Umesh’s taxi, we had been unaware that one driver could be requested to depart due to the bodily distancing norm, however we realised it shortly thereafter and jettisoned Prem Kumar at Delhi itself. Neither the motive force nor us had been conscious of the route, so we relied on Google Maps.

Plotting the route

The most handy route would take us by Agra, Gwalior, Jhansi, Nagpur, Adilabad, Hyderabad, Ongole, Nellore and on to Chennai. Since solely gas bunks could be open, we had been suggested to carry sufficient meals and liquids to final the complete journey.

It was additionally steered that we drive continuous as halting enroute might expose us to COVID-19 an infection, if we got here into contact with others. We had been to carry 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 ingesting water bottles and juices.

As we had been not sure of the provision of public conveniences, the lodge steered that we eat mild over the 37-hour trip (per Google Maps) to Chennai. What we discovered outstanding had been the general public conveniences at every gas 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 direction of the Agra bypass.

As there have been no autos on the freeway apart from a few lorries, we hoped we may journey easily. At Agra, we had been hailed down at a ‘check point’, quickly created in every State and at district entry factors to make sure that autos have mandatory journey permits, passengers travelling in autos adhere to bodily distancing norms and, in some circumstances, to do a fast thermal check on the spot.

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

Lost and located

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

As we handed the city of Sagar whereas headed in 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 had to drive continuous for 20 hours to attain Nagpur. We had been exhausted, as was our lone driver Bablu, and so we managed to request a lodge to give us two rooms to relaxation for 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 employees had to stroll a whole lot of miles to return to their dwelling city during the lockdown
| Photo Credit: Mahesh Kumar A

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

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

While some who had crossed the examine level a few days earlier advised us to count on a wait time of three to 5 hours, we appeared to have a little bit of luck. Our paperwork had been cleared in an hour, and we continued.

We stopped at a closed dhaba enroute our subsequent cease, Ongole. We requested a man, who appeared like its proprietor, if we may stand underneath the cover and have our meal. He was thoughtful, and supplied us a couple of chairs to sit and eat our meal. While there, we observed a number of individuals, 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 had been migrant labourers returning to their villages in Uttar Pradesh from Andhra Pradesh on foot, travelling, in some circumstances, practically 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 National Highway in Mamandur on April 11, 2020, during the 21-day authorities imposed nationwide lockdown as a safety measure towards the COVID-19.
Photo: B. Velankanni Raj
| Photo Credit: B_VELANKANNI RAJ

Some dhabas had been cooking and providing them free meals, the well being inspector advised us. Along the way in which, lorries had been stopping to assist them: regardless that they had been laden with items, the drivers had been permitting individuals 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 direction of Chennai, however coming into Andhra Pradesh from Telangana was an disagreeable expertise. We had been detained on the examine level, and it took nearly two hours earlier than we had been permitted to proceed.

Thus the journey from Nagpur to Ongole took us one other 20 hours, however we had been lucky to be lodged for 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 attain in six hours.

However, we had been as soon as once more stopped at a examine level between Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu at Gummidipoondi, and had been subjected to related questions and doc scrutiny. In spite of providing all requisite proof of fine well being, we had been requested to watch for clearance from well being authorities that delayed our entry into Chennai by three hours.

When 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 gas and spent ₹2,300 in toll charges.

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