Bengaluru: A protest erupted at the Kerala-Karnataka border Monday after commuters who failed to furnish a negative RT-PCR report were stopped from entering Karnataka.
On Saturday, amid a surge in Covid cases, the Karnataka government tightened restrictions for passengers entering the state from Kerala and Maharashtra.
According to an order issued by Karnataka Chief Secretary P. Ravi Kumar, a “negative RT-PCR certificate not older than 72 hours shall be compulsorily produced by the passengers coming to Karnataka by flight, bus, train, taxi, personal transport etc” from the two states.
In an addendum issued later, the state government specified that passengers with vaccination certificates — showing the receipt of at least one dose — will be exempt from the RT-PCR condition.
People from the Kerala district of Kasargod regularly travel to Dakshina Kannada for educational, medical, and business purposes, and the border sees hundreds of commuters every day. In the last five days, Kerala has reported more than one lakh cases, which officials are also blaming for the rise in cases in the Dakshina Kannada district.
On Monday, in light of the order, hundreds of people were stopped by personnel at a check-post set up at Talapady in Karnataka by the Dakshina Kannada district administration.
“We allowed all the goods vehicles, ambulances, and students who had to take exams, and sent back almost 95 per cent of passenger vehicles,” Ranjith Kumar, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mangaluru City South Subdivision, told ThePrint.
Kumar, who is in charge of supervising the 12 main border check-posts set up at the border between Dakshina Kannada and Kasargod districts, confirmed that a few of the commuters took to protesting after being denied entry into Karnataka.
‘We have to protect lives too’
The situation at the states’ boundary arose as people didn’t have sufficient time to take an RT-PCR test since the order was issued, authorities in Kasargod said.
“They gave us the order copy, it was implemented soon after they started stopping people from today. Since this happened within a short span of time, people didn’t get the time to take RT-PCR tests because it takes a day for the results to come back,” said Kasargod district collector Bhandari Swagat Ranveer Chand. She added that the issues are likely to be resolved within a day or two.
“People do have issues because RT-PCR has to be done, testing has to be done, but now the epidemic is such that restrictions have to be imposed. I don’t think there is any way out,” Chand stated.
On Sunday, for the first time, Dakshina Kannada overtook Bengaluru Urban in terms of new Covid cases. The district reported 410 new cases — a 75.7 per cent jump in the number of cases over the past week.
According to data furnished by the Kasargod health department, the test positivity rate (TPR) in the district from 28 July to 31 July had been between 11.07 per cent and 10.07 per cent.
Health authorities in Dakshina Kannada said the weekly positivity rate in the district was around 5.6 per cent, which is significantly higher than the state average of 1.4 per cent.
Dakshina Kannada deputy commissioner Dr Rajendra K.V. said, “There are no other reasons explaining this (the rise in cases). The positivity rate in the whole of Karnataka is coming down, other than in Dakshina Kannada…[it’s because] the entire economy of Kasargod is dependent on Mangalore and people come in even for the smallest reasons.”
“We are not here to disturb the lives of the people, but we have to protect our lives too,” he added.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)