[Coronavirus Lockdown] Plea before Kerala HC to open Kerala-Karnataka border: Court asks if any arrangement possible for serious patients
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[Coronavirus Lockdown] Plea before Kerala HC to open Kerala-Karnataka border: Court asks if any arrangement possible for serious patients

Rintu Mariam Biju

In a plea seeking the opening of the Karnataka-Kerala borders closed to curb the spread of Coronavirus, the Kerala High Court was informed today that there are two other alternative routes connecting Kannur and Mysuru.

Advocate General for Karnataka Prabhuling Navadgi informed the High Court that these two routes were open for transport of essential goods.

In a hearing held via video-conferencing, a Bench of Justices AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Shaji P Chaly asked the Kerala and Karnataka governments if any arrangement could be made for catering to the medical needs of patients in Kasaragod district, based on the proximity of the hospital concerned to the residents in the said district.

During today's hearing, Additional Advocate General for Kerala Ranjith Thampan further suggested the opening of a third route, between Kannur – Iritty – Koottupuzha – Mangoor – Virajpet, to facilitate ease of transportation of essential commodities to Kerala.

To this, AG Navadgi stated that if an appropriate letter is sent by the Kerala authorities to the Secretary, Home Department of the Government of Karnataka, then the matter could be considered accordingly. On that note, the Court directed the District Collector, Kannur to immediately send a communication to the Secretary of the Karnataka Home Department.

The matter will be taken up for hearing tomorrow.

The Court was also informed that the Home Department of the Government of Karnataka has written to its counterpart in Kerala stating the reasons for not opening up the connecting roads of the border between the two states.

This letter states that though there has been a lot of pressure from the residents of Kerala to open up the border roads, the District Magistrate has not ordered to open up the Mukutta check post for the following reasons:

1. Kerala has had 176 cases of COVID-19 and about 7,000 persons are reported to be quarantined.

2. The local residents of Karnataka strongly oppose the opening of the border roads. Any more to open the roads will lead to deterioration of law and order.

3. It was Mysuru and not Kodagu district that supplies any essential commodities to Kerala. In this regard, there are two other alternative routes available for transportation of goods from Mysuru to Kannur ie., Kannur-Iritty-Mananthavady-Sarguru-Beguru-Nanjanagudu-Mysuru and Kannur-Sulthan Batteri-Gundlupete-Mysuru.

It was further stated that since the heavy rainfall in 2018 and 2019, the alternative routes were used for the transportation of essential goods.

The letter further emphasized that that the above two routes would be always kept open for movement of essential goods to Kerala.

On these grounds, it was assured that Kerala would not face any inconvenience in obtaining essential goods.

Yesterday, before the Kerala High Court, Senior Counsel P Ravindran, appearing for the Kerala government, argued,

"It is submitted that the blockades put up by the State of Karnataka have prevented the free movement of vehicles carrying essential commodities to the State of Kerala as also the movement of ambulances and other vehicles carrying patients from Kerala, who require emergent medical attention in neighboring hospitals in the State of Karnataka....."

AAG Thampan submitted that the Chief Minister has already requested his counterpart in Karnataka to take suitable action. A similar request has also been sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention to end the stalemate, it was stated.

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