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‘At Guntur Quarantine Facility, Roaches, Lizards & Dirty Toilets’

The mental trauma we had been put through was not what we deserved.

Updated
My Report
5 min read
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After a long time in Delhi, I was delighted to hear that 15 special trains would be starting from 12 May. I came to the city for my masters’ degree but I wasn’t able to go back home due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The IRCTC portal was open for booking from 4 pm on 11 May. My home is in Tenali, so I had to book a train ticket till Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. We were waiting for the portal to open but due to some technical glitch it took four hours to book our tickets.

On 12 May, it was finally our turn to go back home. We were expecting high sanitation levels given that it is a special train. To our surprise, there was no thermal screening, no ticket-checking. No social distancing was followed and even our bags did not get scanned.

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Train Unsanitary

I have no idea why they asked us to be at station 90 minutes early, I was in my seat five minutes after entering the station.

The least they could have done was not book the middle berth so that the train would be less crowded. But the trains were so packed, it was scary.

The air conditioning was bad, too. My clothes were damp from sweating but still we needed to have our masks on to save ourselves.

Given this was a special train running during a pandemic, one would expect toilets to be cleaned more often but this was not the case either.

We complained numerous times to any railway staff that was passing through including the TC, but there was no response whatsoever.

While dealing with all this, we had to also figure out how to get to our own districts once we reach Vijayawada. We called several control rooms. My friend had to go to Chittoor, so she called the control room there and they asked her to call the control room in Vijayawada because that was her starting point. This back and forth went on a while. We had applied for e-pass online a day prior to boarding the train but in vain. We tried other numbers they said they cannot provide us the pass unless it was a health emergency.

Two hours before reaching, we got a call asking for our district names and the person assured that we’d be provided with buses to go to our home town and that we’d be home quarantined.

Feeling confused but relieved, we called our parents to give them the news. After a 23-hour long nightmare, we had finally arrived.

At the station, they made us sit according to our district and checked our temperature. They also provided us with food. We asked some officials about the quarantine procedure but they didn’t know what is going to happen with us.

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At the Quarantine Centre

After much ado, we were told we would be sent to our respective district headquarters and the collector will decide the future course of action. We were confused and helpless. The process started around 3 pm and the buses started moving around 7:30 pm. There was no way to follow social distancing.

After a half-hour drive, we reached Acharya Nagarjuna University where people belonging to Guntur district were brought. We had to wait inside the bus for nearly one and half hours, after which we understood we would be spending the night here. They called us, registered us and assigned rooms without a word about what they are going to do with us. Hoping they will let go of us next day morning, we went in, got our bags and checked out the rooms. Two persons per room were assigned at the hostel with common washrooms for women and men.

 The mental trauma we had been put through was not what we deserved.
Unsanitary bathroom. 
(Photo Courtesy: Sravani P)

The washrooms were not clean at all. There was dust, lizards and all kinds of insects. There is an open drainage in front of our rooms and our room does not even have a lock. My roommate and I had to move our beds closer because we were soaking in sweat. In this environment, the mental trauma we had been put through was not what we deserved and government officials have no right to do what they have done to us.

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Every worker here is speculating about what is going to happen, no one knows anything for sure. Next day more people came in.

We are using the same washrooms, sharing space with lizards and cockroaches, and a cockroach even crawled over my foot while taking a bath.

They did not even give us an option for paid quarantine. They gave us a kit containing essentials.

 The mental trauma we had been put through was not what we deserved.
State of bathrooms.
(Photo Courtesy: Sravani P)

Now there are over 30 people including children, a pregnant woman here sharing six dysfunctional washrooms. The risk of infection is high in these conditions and I don’t know how negligent one must be to put us in this situation without even giving us a clarity.

 The mental trauma we had been put through was not what we deserved.
Open drain in front of the room.
(Photo Courtesy: Sravani P)

Two other friends from different districts were tested for the virus and they are waiting for their results. I don’t know what I am waiting for here and how long this wait is going to be.

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Miscommunication and Mental Stress Aplenty

All the physical inconveniences aside, who is accountable for this mental stress? This could have been avoided by simple communication. We should be well informed for us to co-operate with the procedures that I have the right to know.

  • The food provided to us.

    (Photo Courtesy: Sravani P)

The government should have announced the protocol before we booked the tickets.

I have got online classes to deal with amidst all this and my semester final exams are starting next week and I don’t know if I’d be in a situation to give the tests.

People who boarded train in Warangal, four hours away from Vijayawada, also didn’t know about the protocol.

The least they could’ve done was to communicate and be polite which would have made this easy and smooth, instead they were least helpful.

Finally on 18 May at 11am my result came and we were informed that we could go home and around 4pm were allowed to go home. I can only hope that they improve the facility for others.

(Calls to Guntur’s District Collector & Magistrate went unanswered. The story will be updated if there is a response.)

(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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