Kodagu, March 29,2020: Rising instances of inter-state migration of Coronavirus suspects led to both Dakshina Kannada and Madikeri sealing their borders, prohibiting entry of people from Kerala into Karnataka. This triggered an unusual response from the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, who has written to the Prime Minister against Karnataka’s action.
Dakshina Kannada had sealed its borders after repeated instances of people misusing ambulance services to travel to Mangalore. Villagers along with the police hauled mud on to the roads that were used as alternate routes.
The road that connects the two states, which people from east Kasargod used to enter into Karnataka, were closed at Mulleria by dumping mud on the road.
A similar scene was witnessed in Madikeri where people aghast at the rising incidents of Coronavirus cases in Kerala decided to no longer permit movement.
The district which had been under lockdown since Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa ordered the entire state to be under one on 23 March, blocked the road with heaps of mud prohibiting all vehicular movement.
The road connects Kerala to Kodagu through Virajpet. As mentioned by Vijayan, it was the state highway used to ferry essential goods.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Vijayan alleged that the action of the Karnataka police has resulted in blocking the Thalassery-Coorg state highway-30 that connects Kerala with Coorg via Veerajapettah.
Hence vehicles carrying essential commodities will have to travel a much longer route to reach Kerala. And this blocking of the lifeline for the flow of goods will add much more hardship to people, he said.
But Member of Parliament for the region, Pratap Simha, tweeted that no amount of pursuing this matter would get the road cleared.
He tweeted tagging the Kerala chief minister saying that Kannur, which is also Vijayan’s home district, has too many cases of Covid-19.
“Don’t try to put pressure on Kar Chief Secretary to open the border. We will not allow (sic),” he added.
Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Virajpet, K G Bopaiah, said that he, along with Madikeri MLA Appachu Ranjan, would sit on a dharna (protest) if the Karnataka government succumbs to pressure from Kerala and opens the highway.
As tweeted by Kodagu Connect, the MLA was heard saying that “since our district hospitals do not have the facility or capacity to handle an outbreak, and there are alternate routes for Kerala through Chamrajanagar or H D Kote, which would be shorter, there was no need to come to Kodagu.”
Karnataka’s border districts have been bearing the brunt of illegal activities organised from Kerala for sometime now.
Most recently, Mysuru has had to battle the illegal dumping hazardous biomedical waste by Kerala. In January this year, the city reported the movement of trucks that cross the border at night and dump waste in Karnataka.
But in the present situation, the porous borders are being checked stringently. Mud barriers, around six feet tall, were built by locals in association with the police. And as per reports, as of today, 133 labourers who crossed the border and entered Madikeri have been home quarantined.
The latest reports suggest that Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda’s intervention may make room for the opening of three routes.
Gowda is said to have had discussions with the chief secretaries of both the States, after which, as reported, the Mangalore to Kasaragod, the Mysuru to Mananthavadi and the Gundlupet to Sulthan Batheri via Muthanga which were shut will now be opened for movement of supplies.
Although no information regarding the same has been confirmed by the district authorities of both the Karnataka districts involved in the issue.