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Covid-19: Kerala-Karnataka border stalemate not resolved

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on April 02, 2020 Published on April 02, 2020

Representative image   -  REUTERS

Karnataka had closed this border on March 21 fearing spread of the Covid-19 virus from Kasaragod district in Kerala where infections had erupted last week

The stalemate at the Kerala-Karnataka border at Kasaragod does not appear to have been resolved even after the Kerala High Court In a late night order on Wednesday asked the Centre to open the Kasaragod-Mangaluru National Highway with immediate effect, saying that Karnataka had no powers to close it.

A division bench of the Kerala High Court comprising Justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Shaji P Chali heard through video-conferencing a public interest litigation filed by the Kerala High Court Advocates Association. The court observed that the Mangaluru-Kasaragod stretch was part of the National Highway network and the Centre should ensure free vehicle movement on the road.

Covid-19 cases in Kasaragod

Karnataka had closed this border on March 21 fearing spread of the Covid-19 virus from Kasaragod district in Kerala where infections had erupted last week, but the rate has been contained subsequently. Karnataka had ignored requests from Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to open the border for people in Kasaragod who need urgent medical help at the nearest hospitals Mangaluru and Manipal.

The Karnataka government said it could not shrug off fears of people on its side of the border about a potential spread of the virus if it is kept open. The Dakshina Kannada district police had deployed an earthmover and dumped boulders and loose earth to block the narrow road. The Kerala High Court said that this was not an appropriate time to impose such restrictions. At least seven patients from Kerala are reported to have died after Karnataka denied entry to even ambulances.

Karnataka argument rejected

The High Court said that national highway is the property of the Centre and it is bound to ensure traffic on it. Karnataka contended that it was not bound to act on an order issued by the Kerala High Court order. But the latter rejected the contention and ordered the Centre to implement its order immediately.

Earlier the Kerala Chief Minister had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention. Subsequently, Home Minister Amit Shah had talked to Chief Ministers of both states. But Karnataka has not relented saying it has every right to protect its people in the districts neighbouring Kerala.

Published on April 02, 2020

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