Home Ministry Objects To Kerala Easing Lockdown Curbs, Seeks Explanation From Chief Secretary

Home Ministry Objects To Kerala Easing Lockdown Curbs, Seeks Explanation From Chief SecretaryAmit Shah addressing party workers in West Bengal (File photo) (Photo by Milind Shelte/India Today Group/Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • The Kerala government has been quick to resume a ‘business as usual’ approach. But that’s in conflict with the Centre’s guidelines.

Kerala today (20 April) decided to relax lockdown restrictions in seven districts but the Union Home Ministry objected to the move, saying it was a dilution of the Centre’s guidelines to tackle Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Local media reported that the Centre has asked for an explanation from the state government in a letter to Kerala chief secretary Tom Jose. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote the letter to Jose.

Kerala has divided the state into red, orange-A, orange-B and green zones and listed districts based on number of Coronavirus cases they have had since the pandemic outbreak in the country.

Kerala was the first state to report Covid-19 positive case in the country. Till now, 402 have tested positive for the pandemic virus with three deaths being reported.

About 270 of these positive cases have recovered, while the state has been reporting lower than 10 cases over since last week. This gave the courage to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM)-led government to relax the lockdown conditions liberally.

The CPM-led Pinarayi Vijayan government has allowed hospitals, pharmacies, shops selling agriculture implements, construction works, government offices, financial institutions, hotels and restaurants to function in green and orange-B zones.

While Kottayam and Idukki districts have been categorised as as green zones, Wayanad, Alappuzha, Thrissur, Palakkad, and Thiruvananthapuram districts fall under orange-B zones.

Vijayan’s Left Democratic Front government also decided to allow the opening of local workshops, saloons, restaurants, book stores, micro, small and medium enterprises within municipal limits, and allow bus travel in cities and towns over a short distance, two passengers in the back seat of four-wheelers and pillion riding on scooters.

The state government, however, has barred large gatherings, socio-religious functions, celebrations, and educational institutions, multiplexes, shopping malls, parks and bars from opening.

New Indian Express website carrying a PTI report said the Home Minister took exception to the opening of restaurants, bus travel in cities and opening of MSME industries in municipal areas.

The Ministry, in a letter pointing to the state government’s 17 April circular, said the activities the Vijayan government was permitting from today were prohibited under the Union government’s guidelines issued on 15 April.

Kerala’s circular was also in violation of the Disaster Management Act 2005, the letter said.

Soon after receiving the Centre’s letter, Chief Secretary Jose released a list of 88 hotspots in Kerala.

State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said no guidelines will be violated by the state government. Stating that there was some ‘misunderstanding’, the minister said any issue with the Centre will be ‘sorted out’.

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