After 7 deaths, Kerala HC asks Centre to remove highway blockade on Karnataka border
The Kerala High Court on Wednesday ordered the Centre to remove the blockade on National Highway 66 at the Kerala-Karnataka boarder. The high court intervention came after a petition was filed by the Kerala High Court Advocates Association seeking the removal of the blockade erected by Karnataka.
As of Wednesday night, seven people from Kasaragod in Kerala died after their ambulances were not allowed to enter Karnataka.
Kasaragod, the northernmost district of Kerala, has been dependent on Mangalore town in Karnataka for medical emergencies and trade as it was the nearest city.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, Karnataka has blocked the border through NH-66 ending at Thalappady in Kerala. The blockade has stopped emergency service vehicles as well. Karnataka also blocked several arterial roads between Karnataka and Kerala with mud to prohibit cross-border movement.
"Further delay in issuing directions could entail loss of precious lives of our citizens. We expect the central government to act expeditiously in this matter. Central government should ensure that the blockades put up by Karnataka is removed. The arterial roads connecting Mangalore in Karnataka to Kasaragod in Kerala, are part of the National Highway network and Centre must ensure they are kept free," the High Court order stated.
"No doubt restrictions must be imposed in times of a national emergency such as the present, but when the guidelines issued by the central government under the Disaster Management Act itself permit travel for urgent medical treatment, then the guidelines have necessarily to be enforced by the central government through the removal of the blockades that prevent such travel," read the order.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had appealed to PM Modi against the blockade. CM Vijayan had earlier told the media that he made several attempts to speak to Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa several times, but to no avail.