KATHUA MAY 28: The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic brought in many restrictions on movement of passengers within and outside the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The nationwide lockdown was announced to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic resulting numbers of Jammu & Kashmir natives got stuck in different parts of the country.
The Lakhanpur border of Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir got converted into Major Facilitation Centre to facilitate the passengers and regulate their movement as per advisories, protocol and SOPs laid down by MHA/UT administration from time to time.
Since then the Lakhanpur Facilitation Centre registered arrival of around 88000 passengers, chiefly natives of Jammu and Kashmir who were stuck in different parts of the country and also those stuck in foreign countries besides giving regulated access to army, Para military personnel, emergency services and essential supplies.
Foreseeing the arrival of large influx of returnees, District administration Kathua constituted 6 arrival and dispatch teams headed by senior officers working 24×7 for regulated movement of passengers to their respective home districts.
The foremost challenge while receiving, segregating and dispatching the arriving passengers was to make this process hassle free, less time consuming with maintaining strict social distancing.
After district wise sorting of passengers the teams would liaison in advance with Nodal Officers of Quarantine Centres of the respective districts for ensuring these passengers to be kept in administrative quarantine. The logistics such as buses provided by JKSRTC and food/water facility was provided to the passengers while allowing for onward journey to their districts. The dispatch of district wise convoys comprising JKRTC buses, private buses and personal LMV were escorted by Jammu and Kashmir Police teams so that no one was escaped from undergoing administrative quarantine.
Kathua district being entrance gate of the UT was given the task of keeping the passengers from rest of the districts in administrative quarantine and accordingly accommodated evacuees/ returnees of almost all the districts of Jammu & Kashmir in as many as 139 well managed Quarantine centres. The district has so far kept and discharged over 14000 persons from different quarantine facilities after successful completion of their quarantine period and having them tested negative.
Kathua district at its peak housed 6067 inmates from various districts in 139 different quarantine centres.
Medical Screening counters were established with team of doctors and paramedics performing mandatory medical screening of each arriving passengers round the clock. Passenger with high fever or symptomatic would undergo COVID-19 test at Sample collection centre established at Lakhanpur for incoming passengers. Medical teams were also assisted by clerical staff of civil departments in the registration of passengers.
A 24 hours operational Control Room established at Lakhanpur Facilitation Centre is attending numerous queries of people of UT on day today basis. The Control Room is responding to 100 to 400 calls a day and guiding people for their coordinated safe return.
A dedicated booth was also established for fast processing of passes for patients coming in ambulance/private vehicles on priority.
Help desk-24×7 was instrumental in guiding the passengers besides time to time announcement of important messages through Public Address System.
To ensure uninterrupted access to army and other paramilitary forces and persons of essential services, a separate point was kept operational to clear their entry in conformity with the directives of MHA/ UT administration.
A separate six lane entry point was earmarked to handle smooth entry of trucks with essentials/ non-essentials commodities.
As per the latest directives of lockdown, all truck drivers have to undergo mandatory Covid-19 test at Lakhanpur, for which special medical teams are working 24X7 to maintain smooth supply of essential and non essential commodities into the Union Territory.
To cope with the hot weather conditions, temporary structure like German Hanger Tent having capacity of 350 persons, canvas shed and a makeshift Sarai in Animal Husbandry Building was put to use for safe stay of incoming passengers.
Amenities such as free meal, RO drinking water points and temporary toilets were established at various locations for the use of passengers at Lakhanpur entry point.
Safety Measures such as fumigation of all sections of Lakhanpur Facilitation Centre, distribution of masks and sanitizers among the teams operating day and night remain a regular affair at Lakhanpur.
Even during lockdown stranded migrants labourers was an issue for that district administration constituted a team lead by SSP Kathua comprising more than 300 volunteers and designated the team with the name “United Kathua”. The united Kathua during the period of two months of lockdown distributed more than 10 lakh food packets to the needy labourers and local through langars thus played an unforgettable role in the pandemic. The team also a regular Langar service at Lakhanpur facilitation Centre.
The district administration has mobilized men and machinery to ensure regulated movement of passengers in accordance with latest SOP’s issued by MHA/ UT administration.
Deputy Commissioner Kathua O.P Bhagat informed that “So far we have managed the arrival of around 88000 passengers, their medical screening and sampling as prescribed”. Besides, “the safe stay of passengers in quarantine centres, cleanliness was our top priority for which an innovation played an important role when we provided free laundry services for inmates of quarantine centres,” he added.
Till date Kathua administration successfully dispatched around 14000 inmates who completed their quarantine period of 14 days/tested negative. “We hope that the fight against Corona shall culminate soon in UT of J&K, stay home stay safe”, advises DC Kathua.