Thirty-one tractors of brick kiln operators were seized on Saturday after they were caught ferrying illegally transported 200 non-local labourers in Srinagar, officials said.
The labourers were found hidden in tractors of three brick kiln operators based in a neighbouring district of Srinagar, said an official.
The labourers trying to escape COVID-19 testing required as per protocol were caught in Srinagar’s Panthachowk tehsil where a robust mechanism has been put in place for ensuring that all those entering Srinagar through the road are tested before being allowed in, he said.
Soon after being informed about it, the District Magistrate Srinagar, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary visited the tehsil where concerned teams had stopped the tractors for inspections which found them illegally transporting brick kiln labourers.
The DM ordered on-spot instructions for strict legal action against offenders — directing for seizing of all 31 tractors and imposing a fine of over 3 lac rupees against operators thereof.
It is notable that there are no brick kilns in Srinagar but labourers coming into Kashmir are stopped in Srinagar’s Panthachowk tehsil for undergoing COVID-19 testing and quarantine until their reports come negative before being allowed to proceed to districts where brick kilns exist and operate.
Dr Shahid also passed directions for charging costs of COVID-19 testing of labourers brought in these tractors and that of their food and accommodation while in quarantine on the owners of the said brick kilns, identified as Syed Manzoor, Ghulam Mohammad Mandoo and Abrar Wani – all from the Budgam district.
Speaking on the occasion, he said it is unfortunate that while Kashmir is reeling under the wrath of the COVID-19 disease some people are adding to the problem rather than helping contain the spread of this dangerous infection.