Bengaluru: With roads between Kerala’s Kasargod district and Karnataka blocked at the insistence of the B.S. Yediyurappa government, people from Kerala have been using the water route to reach Mangaluru under the Covid-19 lockdown, it has emerged.
Residents of Kasargod who did not wish to be identified told ThePrint that people have been trying to reach Karnataka through boats, via the Arabian Sea as well as the Talapady river, for their medical and other needs.
People of Kasargod have to rely on health infrastructure in Mangaluru, Udupi and Manipal regions of Karnataka under normal circumstances, but under the Covid-19 lockdown, these avenues are not available to them.
Karnataka CM Yediyurappa has made it clear that his state will not open its borders, fearing a further spread of the novel coronavirus as Kasargod has one of the highest number of positive cases in Kerala, and has even compared opening the borders to “embracing death”.
Complaints about such attempts have been lodged with the Mangaluru district administration, and the state minister in-charge of the district, Kota Srinivas Poojary, has sought the intervention of the police.
A senior police officer who did not wish to be identified said: “We had received information from the local villagers living along the Talapady river that there were people who were entering our state through small boats using the river. So, immediately, it was brought to the attention of our police and coastal security personnel. They have increased their patrolling.”
The officer added that there were a few Karnataka fishermen who had been found fishing along the state border, but they returned in a few days. “In the same way, there may have been some fishermen who would have used the river to come towards Karnataka (from Kerala),” the officer said.
R. Chethan, the superintendent of police (coastal security) for Udupi district, said the police have enhanced patrolling along the coastline to ensure that such incidents of people trying to cross over do not take place.
“We have two boats patrolling and keeping a watch 24×7. The coastal points are completely sealed and we have officials manning every point of entry,” Chethan said.
Road borders won’t open anytime soon
Mangaluru district officials told ThePrint that borders with Kerala continues to be sealed, and vehicular movement, including for medical emergencies, has been completely suspended.
Talapady, also the name of a check-post on the Kerala-Karnataka border, is only open for transporting essential commodities, while all 17 roads connecting the state have been shut by the police by dumping soil and gravel.
Kerala has cried foul over these decisions, alleging that this “inhuman act” by Karnataka has led to five persons dying in Kasargod due to unavailability of immediate medical help.
But Karnataka points out that six of the nine Covid-19-positive cases in Mangaluru came from Kerala, and thus it is necessary to keep the border sealed to “break the chain”.
Kasargod district has 119 coronavirus-positive cases, and 10,731 persons are placed under quarantine.