Gujarat: Tourists make beeline to Kevadia, police chase them away

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By: Express News Service | Vadodara | Published: June 14, 2020 9:58:29 pm

Kevadia colony houses the Statue of Unity. (Express photo by Bhupendra Rana)

In May this year, the Gujarat Tourism Department released a video of popular tourist destinations in the state, urging people to “take a pause” to be able to “meet again and keep hope alive”, with tourist attractions closed during the Covid-19 lockdown.

However, with the onset of monsoon and the easing of lockdown, the Narmada district police is working overtime on weekends to chase away revellers driving down to Kevadia, which is home to the Statue of Unity, and its allied tourist spots, including the Zarwani waterfalls, a popular picnic spot during rain. Over the weekend, the police turned away over 150 cars that reached Kevadia despite restrictions at tourist destinations.

On Sunday, officials of the Kevadia police station guarding the Narmada Mata checkpoint, which is also the entry point into the Narmada Dam premises, where the Statue of Unity is located, turned away a 100 vehicles till afternoon. Police said they were prepared for the situation after seeing close to 50 vehicles arriving in Kevadia the previous weekend.

Sub-inspector KK Pathak of Quick Response Team (QRT) Kevadia, which also mans the SoU, said, “Over a 100 vehicles came here on Sunday. We turned away about 60 vehicles on Saturday. We were expecting this rush of revellers as last weekend also saw about 60 vehicles coming in despite the tourist destinations being closed. When asked why were they visiting Kevadia without any purpose, they tried to find lame excuses. We let them off with a warning.”

Pathak said the revellers cannot be booked under any law at the moment. “Everyone is well aware that the tourist destinations are closed but driving to Kevadia is an outing in itself. Plus, some of them think that they can get an exterior view of the statue and try to make way to Zarwani waterfalls, which is a monsoon tourist spot. The problem is that since the government has allowed inter-district movement, we cannot book the people under any existing law if they are wearing masks, have not crowded the vehicle and are carrying all necessary documents,” Pathak said.

Police said there were people who came from as far as Surat, Bharuch, Ahmedabad and Vadodara. SoU and other tourist destinations in Gujarat have been closed since March 25.

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