The passengers from Kerala entering Tamil Nadu had to either present a certificate of the two doses of vaccine or a negative RT-PCR certificate taken 72 hours prior to travel.
Those who entered Tamil Nadu by road from Kerala were subjected to extensive screening at all checkposts with heavy police personnel deployed under the command of the Deputy Superintendents of Police. Similarly, passengers who reached the State by air are subjected to heavy screening for the mandatory certificates.
However, after initial euphoria, the passengers who reached various major railway stations in Tamil Nadu, such as Chennai Central and Egmore stations, are not being subjected to stringent checks.
While the COVID-19 screening booths and kiosks set up by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) at these stations are still in place, several passengers said they exited the stations without any checking.
While staff are present in the booths and kiosks set up by the GCC, they are not vigorously conducting mandatory checks, therefore, putting the city of Chennai at risk of passengers coming from Kerala mingling with other people. Kerala has recorded nearly 30,000 COVID-19 cases every day, with the state having the highest number of cases in a single day.
Several passengers said if the Railways allows the Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs) to mandatorily conduct checking of the vaccination and RT-PCR certificates, things will improve and that there would be a clear record of the number of passengers checked.
Ramesh Menon, a passenger who reached Chennai from Kerala’s Kannur district, said, “Railways can deploy its TTEs to conduct checks of these mandatory certificates along with the ticket. This will give a clear list of the number of passengers checked and the number of passengers reported COVID-positive. The only hindrance to this will be the unreserved coaches and if the Railways deploy TTEs outside these coaches, things would become much easier.” Sources in the Railways said that the suggestion is being contemplated at the higher level in the Railways and a decision will be taken soon.
While kiosks and booths installed by the Chennai civic body are useful, the passengers after alighting out of the trains would come out of various exit gates, thus making it difficult.
With the high incidences of COVID-19 cases in Kerala, the Tamil Nadu government has made it mandatory for passengers from Kerala to produce two doses of vaccine certificate or a negative RT-PCR certificate taken 72 hours prior to travel.
The Tamil Nadu Health department is worried that proper checking is not being done at the railway stations and has already taken up the matter with higher Railway authorities to settle it.