As Karnataka closed its borders with Kerala for vehicular movement in the wake of people from neighbouring Kasargod in Kerala testing positive for COVID-19, seven people have died due to delay in medical assistance. The people from the border areas of Kerala have been depending- especially in the case of a medical emergency- on Mangalore in Karnataka rather than Kasargodw. Since the roads are blocked, the people from Kerala have been denied access to hospitals in Mangalore.
In total, around 20 roads which connect the two states have been blocked by the Karnataka government by putting barricades and soil walls upto the height of 6-7 feet. Freight movement has also been affected by the blockade.
The BJP-ruled Karnataka government’s Chief Minister Yeddyurappa said that no one from Kerala should be allowed to enter the state. Even ambulances arriving with critically ill patients are not being allowed to cross the border.
On Tuesday, a resident of Manjeswaram who was under treatment following surgery in Mangalore died because of untimely medical assistance. Three people have died Monday, while two others died earlier. According to reports, two of the deceased were residents of Karnataka who had been staying at their relative's house in Manjeswaram.
Raising the issues, the Kerala CM has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Modi. Rajya Sabha Member from Kerala, Elamaram Kareem has also written to prime minister in this regard.
“The people belonging to the adjoining places of the state border in Kerala are depending on the hospitals and markets of the cities like Mangalore, Puthur, Vithala, Sullia, Madikkeri and Kudagu in Karnataka for their daily needs. This blockade has stopped them from reaching to these places and getting these essential services. There are patients who need frequent dialysis and chemotherapy and they are also not able to go to the respective hospitals in Karnataka. As their medical records and treatment history is with the hospitals there, they are unable to get the treatment from any other places,” Kareem said in the letter.
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Meanwhile an affidavit filed by the Karnataka government in the Kerala High Court stated that the border to Mangalore would not be opened. Karnataka Advocate General Prabhu Ling Nawade informed the High Court that the hospitals in Mangalore are overcrowded and cannot accommodate patients from Kerala.
While, the Additional Advocate General Ranjit Thampan who appeared in court on behalf of the Government of Kerala, said that the roads should not be blocked for the freight movement as well as for patients requiring immediate medical treatment. He also said that the action of the Karnataka government is against the circular issued by the Union Home Ministry.
The Karnataka government, however, argued that the state government has no jurisdiction to consider such a petition. The central government sought two days to state their stand in this issue. But the court rejected the arguments of both the governments and ordered them to state their stands before 5.30 pm on Wednesday.
The Kerala government has also informed the High Court that the vehicles traveling to Karnataka can also be disinfected.
Earlier, Transport Minister of Karnataka, Kota Srinivasa Poojary, who has in charge of Dakshina Kannada said that he will file a petition in the Supreme Court against the opening of the border. The Karnataka BJP may be aiming to reap political gains by creating anti-Kerala sentiment.
In the meantime, Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Minister B. Sriramulu has been removed from handling all matters related to COVID-19 due to lack of coordination, whereas the Kerala Government and Health Department have been performing well, earning appreciation for its efficient dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The anti-Kerala sentiment may also be the ploy of the BJP government to divert the people’s attention from the fact that it has not yet announced any economic package for the welfare of the people affected by the lockdown.
The position of Congress leadership in Karnataka in this matter is also similar to BJP’s position. Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah said that no one should be allowed to come to Karnataka by crossing the Kasargod border. Siddaramaiah even directed the Mysore district collector to tighten the rules.
The BJP leadership in Kerala have so far refrained from commenting on the issue.
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