Tamil Nadu-Andhra border wall demolished post outrage

Coronavirus Lockdown: Wall built along Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border demolished after outrage

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After outrage from various quarters, the Vellore District Administration in Tamil Nadu on Monday demolished walls it raised across the border with Andhra Pradesh to prevent movement of people during Covid-19 lockdown.

The walls measuring three feet were erected on Sunday as part of the efforts to prevent vehicular traffic through the porous border between the two states. Raising of walls at two entry and exit points of the border in the district led to a hue and cry among people from both states saying this was “unwarranted.”

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The walls were built using hollow block stones at Sainagunta and Ponnai check posts along the border on Sunday. However, four other check posts along the border were kept open without erecting any wall or barricade.

After pictures of walls being constructed across the border went viral and Andhra Pradesh taking objection it, Vellore District Collector A Shanmuga Sundaram has ordered its demolition. “It (the wall along the border) was a temporary structure. We have removed it now,” Sundaram told DH.

Officials said none of the borders where the walls were erected fall on the main highway connecting Vellore with Chittoor, which sees massive vehicular traffic as both are important towns in their respective states.

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Hundreds of patients come from Andhra Pradesh to the Christian Medical College (CMC) in Vellore. After the lockdown, authorities said, the movement of vehicles could not be restricted due to non-cooperation from people from both states.

Since both states have more than 1,000 coronavirus cases each, the district administration felt the need to close the borders at two key locations, while keeping open the other four, an official said.

Speaking to DH, Chittoor collector Dr Bharath Gupta said the Vellore district collector spoke to him over the phone to inform that they have removed the walls. The Andhra Pradesh government had earlier taken up the matter with the administration in Tamil Nadu.

“We do not know what transpired on the TN side but yes, a few roads were blocked. Our district has porous borders with the neighbouring state. Blocking roads as such would affect both sides,” Gupta said.

Chittoor, which has several popular Hindu shrines like Tirupati, Srikalahasti, and Kanipakam, has a mix of Telugu and Tamil cultures especially in the district’s south part which has strong connections with TN.

While AP has a total of 1,177 cases as of Monday morning, the cases from Chittoor are only 73. 57 are active while 16 are discharged. Some AP officials saw the wall move as strange since TN is more severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.