Assam groups call off economic blockade on GH routes

‘Goalpara district administration to arrange free COVID tests’

GUWAHATI: The indefinite economic blockade called by various transporter and trader organisations in Assam on all routes from Goalpara district to Garo Hills from Thursday has been temporarily withdrawn following assurances by the Goalpara district and police administration on Wednesday to relax travel and trade restrictions imposed in the wake of the pandemic.
“We had a meeting with the Goalpara SP and additional DC today and were told about the revised SOPs and easing of travel restrictions by Meghalaya for people from Assam/or any other state, provided the requisite COVID protocols are adhered to. Besides, the North Garo Hills district administration too has issued an order regarding easing of curbs to facilitate business between traders of Goalpara and that district. So, we have decided to temporarily withdraw the agitation,” Gitartha Sarma, district executive, AASU, Goalpara, told The Shillong Times on Wednesday.
“The district administration has assured us that travel and business restrictions have been eased and we are now aware of the SOPs and requisite COVID tests. However, if there are any untoward incidents or threat to life and property of transporters and traders, who have to travel almost every day to Garo Hills, then we will be compelled to resume the strike,” Sarma said.
As many as 40 organisations had, under the aegis of All Assam Students Union (Goalpara unit), held two meetings before planning to stage the agitation from October 29.
The Meghalaya health department had on Tuesday issued revised entry and exit protocols, exempting entrants who produce a COVlD-negative report at the entry point from testing, irrespective of their state of origin.
“Visitors coming for a specific purpose (business, examinations, industry, work, personal distress, etc.) to Meghalaya for a short duration of five days or less are exempted from quarantine on production of a COVID-Negative RAT report from a recognised laboratory,” the order, which was communicated to the protesting groups during the meeting on Wednesday, stated.
Meanwhile, one of the representatives of the agitating groups told this correspondent from Dudhnoi that they would resume travel/operations to Garo Hills from Friday once all the logistics for the COVID tests are in place at various centres of Goalpara.
“The district administration has assured us of free COVID tests at the centres and all necessary arrangements will take a day or so. So we have decided to resume operations from Friday,” the representative said.

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