Friday, November 27, 2020

Civil aviation ministry objects to charging flyers for Covid tests

Nagpur: Soon after the state government issued restrictions on travellers from Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa, the ministry of civil aviation has raised an objection over alleged bias against flyers, who have to pay for their tests on arrival, if they are not carrying Covid negative test results. Road and rail passengers are tested for free. The central ministry wants a uniform policy towards travellers of all three modes — air, road and rail.

Even as the state government had made it mandatory for persons entering Maharashtra from these states to have a Covid-negative report, there are different norms for travellers on the three modes. Fliers have to board the plane with a Covid negative report. However, those not having one can get the tests done at the airport where they arrive by paying for it. The air travellers have to get a RT-PCR test, which takes at least six hours to generate a result.

Travellers by rail and road on the other hand have to get the much faster Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) done, and also do not have to pay anything.

A senior bureaucrat of secretary rank at Mumbai Mantralaya told TOI that the state government has received an objection from the civil aviation ministry, which is demanding a uniform policy for all.

The state government is now working on the uniform policy, which will deal with aspects like charges and type of test to be conducted on travellers. “A final decision has not been taken yet. However, the RT-PCR is always a more reliable option,” the officer said.

Talking to TOI, chief secretary Sanjay Kumar said the idea behind charging flyers is to stress that they should be flying with a Covid negative report in hand. He said it is the local body’s discretion to appoint a testing agency. It can be from the private or government sector, depending on the situation, and the decision is of the concerned local body, he said.

27/11/20 Shishir Arya/Times of India

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