At least 31 tractors of local brick kiln operators were caught illegally ferrying around 200 non-local labourers here.
The labourers were found hidden in tractors of three brick kiln operators, in a neighbouring district of Srinagar. The illegal transportation of labourers to escape COVID19 testing, as per the protocol, was caught in Srinagar’s Panthachowk tehsil, where a round-the-clock and robust mechanism has been put in place for ensuring that all those entering Srinagar through road were tested.
Soon upon being informed about the development, District Magistrate (DM), Shahid Iqbal Choudhary visited the tehsil where concerned teams had stopped the tractors in question for inspections. Later, it was found they were illegally transporting brick kiln labourers.
The DM ordered on-spot instructions for strict legal action against offenders, directing for seizing of all 31 tractors and imposing fine of over Rs three lakh against operators.
There are no brick kilns in Srinagar but labourers coming into Kashmir are stopped at Pantha Chowk for undergoing COVID19 testing and quarantine until their reports come negative, before being allowed to proceed to districts where brick kilns exist and operate.
The DM also passed directions for charging costs of COVID19 testing of labourers brought in these tractors and that of their food and accommodation while in quarantine on the owners of the brick kilns.
He said it was unfortunate that while Kashmir was reeling under COVID19, some people were adding to the problem rather than helping contain the spread of the fatal infection.