Estate workers’ agitation halts traffic on TN-Kerala border

Continuing their agitation for the second consecutive day, a large number of workers from Theni district resorted to a wait-in stir at Bodi Mettu and Mundal check posts here on Thursday.

As a result, vehicular movement on the ghat section was affected. The long queue of vehicles on both sides could be cleared only after three hours.

Police said the workers, who travelled in jeeps from different locations in the district, worked for daily wages in private cardamom estates in Idukki district in Kerala.

As many as 500 jeep drivers depended on the movement of the daily wage earners from Tamil Nadu to Kerala. The daily trips were affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. When the Tamil Nadu government relaxed the curfew, officials at the State border, however, refused to permit movement, S. Mathivanan, a jeep driver, claimed.

The officials insisted on vaccination and urged the travellers to display the certificates on their mobile phones. “If they did not possess the vaccine certificates, they wanted a RT-PCR negative test report," he said.

If the travellers told them they had taken the first dose and awaited the second one, health officials insisted on the negative report. The protesters said they had no money and the daily wages assured them of food at home and refused to leave.

Senior officials from the police and district administration held talks with their counterparts in Idukki and it was decided to permit the vehicles in phases on Thursday.

From Friday, the workers were told that permission would be accorded only for those with two doses of vaccination to proceed to Kerala. There would be no compromise on letting people criss-cross without vaccination, the health officials told the workers.

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