The Noida administration had posted their teams at two border points with the capital—at DND and Mayur Vihar —to conduct random rapid antigen tests on incoming commuters, citing the high incidence of Covid cases in Delhi.
Random tests are important to gauge the extent of the outbreak. But they should not be coercive in nature while pretending to be voluntary. Voluntary tests must be truly voluntary.
Though the exercise was meant to be a voluntary one, cops fanned out across lanes to wave down motorists and ‘escort’ them to the health teams for swab tests. Most motorists objected, voicing concerns — ranging from getting late to compromising social distancing by getting out of the insulated space of their cars.
Police had a hard time as well. If trying to intercept high-speed traffic wasn’t tough enough, there were insults thrown their way as well.
Border tests: Riders fret over ‘time waste’
A man in a white Fortuner rolled down his window and shouted he “won’t stop my car for junior-level cops”. Barricades were not placed because of instructions not to disrupt the flow of traffic, which had become a daily affair earlier this year when Noida sealed its border with Delhi.
While the events of the day – which ended with 165 antigen tests (the target was 200) being conducted and three testing positive, including a cop – led to questions about the efficacy of the exercise, Noida district magistrate Suhas LY said it would be discussed at a meeting.
Asked if the results of the random tests justified the resources deployed, Suhas told TOI, “There is no misuse of resources as only two personnel – a lab technician and a paramedic – are deployed in the random sampling drive at the two points. Besides, in the review meeting with the additional chief secretary (on Wednesday), the government has instructed that we continue such random sampling from November 19 to 30, especially at the border with Delhi where lakhs of people cross over. We will, however, take a call on it as per the results of the drive in the next couple of days.”
On Wednesday, the testing exercise began after the peak hours. Health teams set up camp at the borders around 10am and police were deployed around half an hour later. With the men in khaki waving them down, motorists slowed down, assuming this some kind of checking was on. But they refused to stop the moment they were told they would have to get tested.
Some got into arguments, others requested the cops to let them pass.
Indu Shukla, who was headed for Greater Noida, said she did not want to get tested as she was “alright” and objected to her time was being wasted. Sandeep Kumar, who was on his bike, told cops he had recently got tested and was fine when he was asked to go to the camp. The cops asked to see the test, to which Kumar retorted he does not carry it around. “Quietly park your bike to a side and get tested,” a cop deployed at the DND border told him. “I got late for work. This is not right,” Kumar grumbled.
(Additional reporting by Meenakshi Sinha)