INDIA. Mumbai: It was absolute chaos and rumble in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), Mumbai, past midnight on Tuesday. The chaos happened due to the new COVID-19 norms which included the compulsory RT-PCR testing for the passengers travelling from The United Kingdom(UK).
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According to the new rules given by the Indian government, all the passengers arriving from the UK have to quarantine themselves for 14 days. Along with this, they are required to undergo the RT-PCR test with their own cost. The trouble started when the UK flight arrived and the passengers were sent to the quarantine centers directly. They were not even allowed to see their relatives. Due to this, the relatives of the flyers were agitated and vociferous and were venting their anger on the administration and police personnel. Police and security personnel were deployed to control the protesting relatives of passengers who were restless and noisy.
Talking to Transcontinental Times, one disgruntled relative, Talha Munshi, said, “My maternal uncle has come from the UK and he is being asked to go to RT-PCR test. Even if the report is negative, he has to go to quarantine for a week in Mumbai.”
Another man Sikandar Mansood, said, “Authorities and the hotel industries have made a pact with each other as the quarantined passengers have to stay in the hotels at their own cost.”
Domestic flyers’ plight
Even the domestic fliers had been facing trouble due to the COVID-19 restrictions and testing rules in Maharashtra. According to Maharashtra’s new guidelines, people flying from Goa, Delhi, Rajasthan, and Gujarat have to come with a negative RT-PCR test report (sample collection within 72 hours). Passengers from these states who are not carrying the report shall have to undergo the test at the airport. The passengers have to do the test at their own cost. The RT-PCR test at the airport has a cost of Rs.850 ($11.53). Interestingly, earlier the cost was around Rs.1400($18.98).
When flights from Delhi and Goa arrived late at night on Monday, the passengers who didn’t have the report were asked to perform a RT-PCR test at the airport. Passengers were caught unaware of the new guidelines and were very much infuriated. They were reluctant to do so and dared the airport authority to register a case against them. One passenger told Transcontinental Times, “They (Airport
Authority and BMC) are looting us in the name of testing as the actual RT-PCR testing is free of cost in Mumbai.”
Many passengers claimed that they had to face mental harassment as they were having a tough time inside the airport premises. They also said that the airport officials were not cooperating. While talking about this, one of the airport officials said, “We are helpless and we are following the orders.”