Different travel protocols within J&K confuse air passengers

Travelers from Srinagar carrying negative covid19 report still being retested at Jammu Airport
Different travel protocols within J&K confuse air passengers
File Photo

Adopting different travel protocols within Jammu and Kashmir has become a cause of inconvenience for air passengers from Srinagar to Jammu.

On Thursday, an air traveler from Srinagar to Jammu had to face avoidable inconvenience at Jammu where he was subjected to retesting for covid19 though he had a negative covid19 certificate

issued to him at Srinagar just a day before his travel to Jammu.

The Srinagar-based traveler on reaching Jammu was first let go from the airport but later traced and subjected to retesting, a close friend of the traveler said.

"My friend was first not tested at the Jammu airport due to some confusion regarding the local protocol. He was then traced and a sampling van sent to his house despite the fact that he had a valid negative covid19 report issued to him within stipulated period of 48 hours at Srinagar," he said.

"This is unacceptable and violates the SOPs," said the person, wishing anonymity.

"Even I had a plan of travelling to Jammu but I am not sure if my Covid19 negative report received from Srinagar will be accepted there (in Jammu," he said.

Protocol at Jammu Airport:

On the protocol to be followed in case of a person with negative covid19 test report of last 48 hours, arriving at Jammu airport from Srinagar, a senior administrative official said: "They will be sent for home quarantine and their sample collected at the airport will be tested."

The officer added that persons arriving at Jammu airport "without any negative test report", as per the protocol they will be put into administrative quarantine or hotel quarantine and the samples will also be collected at airport for testing.

Protocol at Srinagar Airport:

On the other hand the protocol followed at Srinagar airport is different.

A senior official coordinating testing and other formalities for passengers at Srinagar International Airport told Greater Kashmir that the arrival lounge at the airport has been compartmentalized into a green channel and a red channel for the inbound travelers.

"The passengers arriving from Jammu have to pass through the green channel and not undergo any testing for Covid-19. However, these passengers have to remain home quarantined for four days," the official said.

Persons travelling from any other part of the country have to pass through the red channel at the airport where their samples for Covid19 are collected, he said.

"After sample collection, these passengers are moved to TRC Srinagar where they have an option to either go for administrative quarantine or paid quarantine in hotels till the time their test report comes out.

"The administrative quarantine is in 'wellness facilities' set-up by the government while we also have roped in almost 30 hotels where travelers can choose to pay and stay," the official said.

As per the latest government order, the per night tariff for a double bed hotel room for quarantine is Rs 1600 in addition of Rs 400 for three meals a day.

The tariff for single bed room is Rs 1200 per night. In addition the government has also roped in two five star hotels where travelers can stay during their period of quarantine.

"Earlier the test report would take two or three days but now the travelers have to be in administrative or hotel quarantine for just 24 hours as testing has picked up," the official said.

The official said there are many cases of exception for quarantine. "As per the guidelines, there are exemptions for persons travelling with infant of less than 1 year of age, lactating mothers, dialysis or cancer patients travelling from any destination to Srinagar, who are allowed to go for home quarantine after their sample for Covid-19 testing is collected," the official said.

The official said even business travelers arriving in Srinagar are allowed to go for home quarantine after collection of test sample, provided they fulfilled certain requirements.

"The business travelers need to have a return ticket within four days of their arrival.  They also need to provide proof that they have a hotel booking for just four days or less," the official said.

He said those persons arriving at Srinagar Airport with a "Covid-19 negative test report done within last 48 hours are not retested for Covid-19 but just advised home quarantine. However, foreign travelers who arrive at the Srinagar Airport are necessarily put in administrative or hotel quarantine for one week regardless of test report coming out negative."

Protocol for persons arriving in J&K via road:

DC Kathua, OP Bhagat said: "If the incoming persons have passes from the District Magistrates but do not have covid19 test report of last 48 hours, they will be sent for administrative quarantine at their respective districts.

"On the other hand, those coming with negative test report of last 48 hours, they will be sent for home (quarantine).

"If someone is coming at Lakhanpur unregulated i.e. without passes or without sample test report, in that case, he/she will be put in administrative quarantine at Kathua district or Samba district for specific time and his/her sample will also be collected.

"Persons coming with passes from the District Magistrate or Resident Commissioner, they will be allowed to leave for home district where they will be put under administrative quarantine."

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