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Coronavirus outbreak: Conflict between Kerala-Karnataka begins as borders to commute shut down


New Delhi, Apr 06: While Kerala has begun to find trouble after Karnataka has sealed its border to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the sutuation has grabbed focus to extent the possible limits of restrictions that may be imposed by the state government to deal with emergency situations.

This comes after the Kerala High Court directed the central government to ensure free vehicular movement for those requiring urgent medical attention on the national highway that connects Kasaragod, Kerala to Mangaluru, Karnataka. The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to confer with the states and formulate the norms for creating a passage at Talapadi, the border.

Coronavirus outbreak: Conflict between Kerala-Karnataka begins as borders to commute shut down

Also, another solution is possibly round the corner, as there are reports of Kasaragod suffering due to the highway closure. Also, many in this region depends on medical facilities in Mangaluru, while others rely on inter-State movement for essential medicines to reach them.

However, Karnataka's objection is based on the fact that Kasaragod has Kerala's largest number of positive COVID-19 cases in the country. There are possibilities that allowing vehicles to commute between these two places might result in the disease spreading to its territory.

Also, the Kerala High Court, in a view that denies emergency medical aid, violates the right to life and liberty, and addressed jurisdictional objections from Karnataka by observing that its direction was to the Centre, as what was under closure was a national highway.

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Meanwhile, one should not forget that there is a significant irony from Kerala's point of view as well.

In March, the Kerala Governor promulgated the 'Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020' to arm itself with powers to deal with the outbreak. One of its clauses says the State can seal its borders for a period as necessary, while the other talks about restricting the duration of essential or emergency services, including health and food supply.

Though Karnataka has several reasons to believe that it too, is entitled to seal its borders and restrict essential services, it is a left with a question whether Kerala's new law would weaken its case that its neighbour cannot shut down its border and deny medical access to its residents.

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