NEW DELHI, India
Tamil Nadu, a state in South India, built a wall at its border with Andhra Pradesh state to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and ensure that people strictly follow lockdown measures.
The seven-foot-high wall was built overnight to control interstate movement via Chittoor district. A similar five-foot-high wall was built in Vellore district. Both districts share a border with Andhra Pradesh.
“Since the chances of getting detected at the main border crossing are high, some people tend to use little-noticed locations in remote places,” Vellore District Collector A Shanmuga Sundaram told the Press Trust of India news agency.
He added that the walls, made of concrete hollow blocks, were built without damaging the roads.
Locals turned to social media to highlight the act, calling it anti-national. Many criticized the walls, as they prevented patients from Andhra Pradesh from receiving treatment in Vellore, which is famous for its super specialty medical services.
“States are slowly shutting their borders and becoming nations,” tweeted UmaMaheshvaran P Selvam, a Vellore local and an alumnus of Nottingham University.
According to data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Tamil Nadu has so far reported 1,937 coronavirus cases, including 24 deaths.
Following the strong reactions, the Vellore administration announced late Monday that it was taking down the walls disconnecting the two states.
Other states create barricading
Odisha, a state in East India which shares its borders with Andhra Pradesh on the southern side, has dug trenches to discourage inter-state movement. The trenches had not been highlighted until a local tribal woman had to be carried through the trench to reach a hospital on Monday.
The video of the woman being carried through the trenches went viral the same day.
Pramod Sawant, chief minister of the coastal state of Goa, said Monday he has recommended to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the state’s borders remain sealed even after the lockdown period ends on May 3.
The state shares borders with two states — Maharashtra and Karnataka. The western state of Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital, has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country.
Goa was recently declared a no-COVID state after all seven of its cases recovered.
Earlier, two South Indian states got into a legal battle over borders. After coronavirus cases were discovered in Kasargod district in Kerala state, the government of Karnataka state blockaded its national highway connecting Karnataka to Kasargod.
“What the government of Karnataka is doing with Kerala is atrocious. Barricading its border with soil is horrible. Secluded Kerala villages in Kasargod district are suffering. Within two days, two people had died when the ambulances were denied permission to enter Mangalore,” tweeted a local from Kasargod.
Eventually, the Kerala High Court ruled that Karnataka’s border restrictions were illegal and directed the government to remove them. Kerala state has reported 481 cases so far, of which 355 have recovered.
On March 16, the northeastern state of Sikkim sealed itself off to non-residents.
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