The Kerala government Monday told the Supreme Court that the Centre had “so far not acted” on its April 3 order, asking it to discuss the blockade of roads between Kasaragod in Kerala and Mangaluru in Karnataka with the two states and formulate parameters for passage of patients urgently in need of treatment.
In a counter affidavit, the Kerala government said that after receiving a copy of the order, the state Home Secretary had forwarded a letter to Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla on April 4, “requesting him to inform time for video conferencing considering the urgency of the matter” but “no response has been received”.
Alleging that Karnataka’s move to block roads and cut off Kasaragod patients’ access to hospitals in Mangaluru and movement of essential goods to Kerala, the affidavit said the “blockade…cannot… be stated to be a reasonable restriction”. The state urged the court to direct the Centre “to comply” with the April 3 order.
On April 1, the Kerala High Court directed the Centre to ensure that blockades put up by Karnataka on national highways connecting it to Kerala are removed forthwith to facilitate free movement of vehicles carrying people for urgent medical treatment between the two states.
Karnataka challenged this in Supreme Court, saying the opening of the roads would lead to law and order issues as local residents were wary of people from Kasaragod crossing over given that the district has a high number of COVID-19 cases.
In the counter affidavit, the Kerala government said “the contention that there would be breakdown of law and order if the blockades were removed is not based on any cogent materials”.
“A total of eight lives have been lost till date on account of these blockades of Border Roads by State of Karnataka. One person died after this SLP was filed by the State of Karnataka,” the state government said.
It added that “Kerala is a consumer state and depends heavily on its neighbouring states for supply of essential goods” which too are transported through these roads.
Even after the Supreme Court order, the Karnataka CM “had openly declared that the blockade…will not be removed”, the counter affidavit said.
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