Thursday, 7 July, 2022
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State apathy leaves Kerala’s Kasargod dependent on Karnataka for medical care amid Covid-19

During the Covid-19 crisis, Kasargod’s dependence on Mangaluru and Udupi for medical care has been badly hit as Karnataka refuses to open its borders.

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Bengaluru: The inter-dependence of districts in the boundaries of two fighting southern states has brought Kerala’s Kasargod in the limelight, with even the Supreme court asking the neighbouring states of Kerala and Karnataka to amicably resolve the issue.

Karnataka has stuck to its stand all through the lockdown period by closing the boundary line with Kerala’s Kasargod because it fears that the Covid-19 hotspot will add to the spread of the disease in its districts of Mangaluru, Udupi, Kodagu and Manipal.

These districts are the ones on which North Kerala’s Kasargod, Kannur and Kozhikode are heavily dependent for not just higher education and employment, but also for super-speciality hospitals.

In the last week or so, Kerala has claimed that five of its citizens have died because Karnataka did not allow the ambulances to enter its territory which had been blocked by an earth mover putting a mountainous heap of mud. Karnataka, on the other hand, has claimed that six of the nine patients who tested positive in Mangaluru were all from Kerala.

Karnataka’s contention is that Kasargod has 114 positive cases and has been listed as the ten Covid-19 hotspots in the country and that it accounts for half of the coronavirus cases in Kerala.

The medical connection

Kasargod’s proximity to Karnataka’s boundary is like Noida’s closeness to New Delhi. But, because it is located closer to the boundary with Karnataka, which has a well-developed education and medical sector, investments in medical infrastructure in Kerala’s northern districts have been inadequate.

This has made people of North Kerala completely dependent upon Mangaluru, Udupi and Manipal for most of its needs. But, this has also led to the supply of human resources from Kerala to the coastal belt of Karnataka.

“By drawing a line on a map, it does not make any difference. Both states have been interdependent on each other. Just as they have been dependent on Karnataka for medical treatment, Karnataka is also dependent on Kerala for their manpower. Most of the medical and paramedical professionals in the Mangaluru -Udupi region belong to Kerala,” explains Prof Pattabhirama Somayaji of the University College, Mangaluru.

“More than 50 to 60 per cent of patients in hospitals in neighbouring Mangaluru and Udupi are from Kasargod. There are three hospitals that have been under construction in Kasargod, but not one of them is operational,” explained a district official on condition of anonymity.

Two super-speciality hospitals which were to come up in North Kerala, one by the Sri Sathya Sai Orphanage Trust and the other on the lines of the AIIMS, Delhi, have not gone beyond the foundation stone laying ceremonies.

A former journalist and a native of Kasargod, C.S. Narayanakutty, explained, “Kasargod has remained backward sheerly because of negligence and the casual attitude of the government towards this northernmost district.”

“This present situation is a wake up call for the political parties to understand that Kasargod needs immediate attention and should be developed. The hospitals in Kasargod don’t have adequate medical facilities to even fight Covid-19 during this time of crisis,” he adds.

Kasargod MLA N.A. Nellikkunnu blames the state government for neglecting the northernmost district of Kerala. When asked about the inordinate delay in completing the construction of the super-specialty hospitals in the district, he defended it saying: “We are in one corner of the state and so development funds reach us late.”

Also read: Power struggle between two top ministers adds to Karnataka’s coronavirus troubles

Cultural connection

Kasargod was earlier part of the South Canara district of the Madras Presidency under the British and even after Independence, it was part of Dakshina Kannada district. Three districts, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada (coastal Karnataka) and Kasargod together formed Tulunadu. But In 1956, when states were reorganised on linguistic lines, Kasargod was merged with Kerala.

“Culturally, emotionally and linguistically, people of Kasargod still feel they are a part of the Kannadiga community. But the governments that ruled over Kerala have neglected Kasargod time and again,’’ said Suresh P, a native of Kasargod.

Political battle

As soon as the Covid-19 cases began to be reported and Karnataka blocked the highway, Karnataka’s tourism minister C. T. Ravi said in a social media post : “Why is CM Pinarayi Vijayan trying to push coronavirus infected patients to Mangaluru? Should Karnataka suffer due to the lack of vision and incompetence of Kerala’s leaders ?.’’

His post reflects the political clash between the two states. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written two letters in a span of three days to Prime Minister Narendra Modi but has not received a response yet. In the meanwhile, the Kerala Advocates Association moved the Kerala High Court and this was immediately followed up by Kasargod’s Congress MP, Rajmohan Unnithan, moving the Supreme Court.

“There is no fight between Kerala and Karnataka. But the Karnataka government must understand they need to open the borders on humanitarian grounds as we need medical aid,” he said.

Nellikkunnu, pointed out that Karnataka needs to understand the anxiety of the patients who need medical assistance. “Conduct a Covid-19 test before you take them in,” he told The Print.

Also read: Kerala govt urges PM Modi to ensure inter-state movement of goods without restrictions


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  1. Senseless closing of boundary made the death toll to cross Ten.. Kasaragod paid heavy price for the dirty politics played ..Even one dead body has to carried by hand to ten kilometers for burial Inside Karnataka.. Manglore lobby has played very significant role for not to have any tertiary medical care in Kasaragod all these years…
    Having so many Medical facilities in Manglore not even a single venture been started in Kasaragod although Sullya Udupi etc got many
    Thanks to the hatred towards Keralites let alone humanity and compassion..

    The TATAs already started the works of 540 bed hospital by prefab technology slated to open within three months.The LuLu is coming plus other few handful who promised Medical Colleges as well.
    Add the Cashless Saibaba Hospital plus proposed AIIMS to the Kerala and National AYUSH hospital
    With the proposed Mini Airport,National water way and Semi HSR terminals and high-end Resorts related with Bakel Fort things are not far
    Kasaragod becoming International Medical Hub within a decade

  2. Senseless closing of boundary made the death toll to cross Ten.. Kasaragod paid heavy price for the dirty politics played ..Even one dead body has to carried by hand to ten kilometers for burial Inside Karnataka.. Manglore lobby has played very significant role for not to have any tertiary medical care in Kasaragod all these years…
    Having so many Medical facilities in Manglore not even a single venture been started in Kasaragod although Sullya Udupi etc got many
    Thanks to the hatred towards Keralites let alone humanity and compassion..

    The TATAs already started the works of 540 bed hospital by prefab technology slated to open within three months.The LuLu is coming plus other few handful who promised Medical Colleges as well.
    Add the Cashless Saibaba Hospital plus proposed AIIMS to the Kerala..
    With the proposed Mini Airport,National water way and Semi HSR terminals and high-end Resorts related with Bakel Fort things are not far
    Kasaragod becoming International Medical Hub within a decade

  3. It is funny to see people commenting out without knowing the history of South Canara.

    Kasargod people have seen Mangalore as a home for obvious reasons and Kerala has never imposed any restrictions as well.

    If any state that will lose, then it will be Karnataka.
    Kerala is a peculiar state, very strong but yet subtle, if we provoke them the business and medical industry of Mangalore will crash.

    Everyone knows where the money and man power comes from. Mangalore anyways was ignored by Karnataka.

    Tulu, Konkani community have great respect for Kerala and it’s people.

    • Please don’t compare tulu & konkani. Konkani people are less than 14 lakh including Muslim konkani who stay between byndoor & karwar &marrying other ppl. Konkani ppl are 13.50lakh in Goa. Why this ppl want to stay in Karnataka where tulu ppl are 80- 1crore. But they want. Covid19 from muslim community to reach Karnataka & join hospital where Konkani ppl are more where nurses are more from kerala

  4. Yes it’s time to consider Kasaragodu to include d in to Karnataka. This is best example that they were helpless, better do it right now.

  5. Mangalore – Uduppi Medical College lobby is preventing the opening of Kasaragod Medical College, Kanhangad Multi Specialty Hospital and another Hospital in Manjeswar for a long time. Doctors and even Ambulance drivers get commission from Mangalore Hospitals for diverting patients to Mangalore!
    This Must be investigated.All politicians gets money from these people.

  6. Pathetic to see response of Karnataka government.
    They forgot the history of the region as a whole. Mangalore , Udupi, Kasaragod was and is part of Tulu Nadu. People used to travel between kasargod and Mangalore. Families interconnected across the border. Common rituals, culture and cuisine.

    Kasargod even teaches Kannada as minority language (thanks to Kerala govt who never imposed language on its people).

    I feel this will have repurcussions, and Kerala with its good governance can turn around Kasargod in quick turn around time.

    Already people in kasargod has started developing hatred for Karnataka govt. I urge Karnataka to patch up soon.

  7. Title should have been


    Modi is saying seal borders and Kerala is saying open borders.

  8. What is the point in opening up borders when rule of thumb in Lockdown is immobilization of people and yes in humanitarian grounds we must sort the issues but problem here is it is highly impossible to check each and everyone who crosses border once it is opened.
    In medical emergencies how can u stop a vehicle to check for covid now it’s Upto Kerala govt to protect it’s people it’s not Kerala border but all borders r closed it’s not state or political issues
    Karnataka people have welcomed people from Kerala in all sectors nd never to disregard people from Kerala have settled in many number here..
    But since it’s outbreak containing disease is important so brutal decision from govt are inevitable..

  9. First the Congress MP and Chief Minister should explain how FUNDS REACH LATE. It seems RG is having a share in these funds.

  10. Since 1956 Karnataka has made such progress in adjoining district and kerala has not done anything except sensing its men and womenfolk to gulf countries to work as maids and artisans.

  11. Supreme court must look into Corona Jihad angle of this incident. Karnataka must not allow any Jihadist to spread corona in their state. For sure Mr Pinarayi wants to spread corona into Karnataka also. God save from such neighbours.

  12. Karnataka has every right to not allow any communist Tablighi Jamat member to cross over to Karnataka.

  13. Very strange Hospital not constructed because the funds reach late. Do they travel by road. Or through pockets of politicians. Or they have such negative labour atmosphere that no construction company wants to go in Kerala.

  14. Both Mangalore and Kasaragod were part of South Canara district of Madras State till 1956. When the states were reorganised on linguistic basis Kasaragod became a part of Kerala and Mangalore became a part of Mysore state – now Karnataka.

    People of Kasaragod and Kannur were always visiting the big hospitals in Mangalore as well as Manipal whenever they had serious ailments. Just like many people of Palghat (Kerala) visit Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) and people of Nagercoil (Tamil Nadu) visit Trivandrum (Kerala).

    Nowadays with many high-tech hospitals set up in Kozhikode, most people in Kannur district visit Calicut for treating serious ailments, but people of Kasaragod still prefer hospitals in Mangalore as it takes only around one hour to reach there.

    Not a single patient from Kasaragod has tried to go to Karnataka for treating coronavirus! Only those patients who were till recently regularly visiting hospitals in Mangalore for their treatments were taken to the Karnataka border when their conditions worsened.

    Now after these latest developments, I understand that the high-tech hospitals in Calicut, such as Astor Mims, Meitra, etc. (which are owned by NRIs) are planning to set up hospitals in Kasaragod at the earliest. Kerala Govt also should immediately increase the facilities in Govt hospitals in Kasaragod.

  15. Those who are very much aware about the blocked roads could have approached nearby hospitals in their own area, which they didn’t do. Instead, knowingly that the border is closed what was the idea of proceeding to the blocked route? Only to blame Karnataka’s action. Better they remember about their swift hartals for one or other silly reasons and denying even medical facilities to people who does not belong to their party and even attacking even the patient is the inherit culture of political goondas of Kerala. So let this be an opportunity for them to introspect

  16. Mangalore itself is under stress with the pandemic and its medical structure is under immense pressure. It’s impractical to test every person who crosses the border. Though Kerala’s anxiety is understandable, Karnataka has so far done a good job of suppressing the pandemic and that cannot be risked under any circumstance as the fallout from that would be far greater

  17. In Kerala every district has first class medical facilities, Kasaragod is no different. Border Kasaragod people depend on Mangalore due to its proximity to the city. Anyone with common sense can understand that people will depend on a nearby city , than their native locality, just because of multiple options it provides. What Karnataka did is gross injustice.

    By their logic, then Hosur people can’t work and live in Bengaluru, and Nagercoil people can’t go to Trivandrum.

    Before pointing fingers, Karnataka should fix their own problems. Do all districts in KA have first class hospitals ? Voices of North Karnataka people has always been neglected by successive governments.

    I feel sorry that govt did this to out fellow neighbours.

  18. To those who are commenting that Kasargod don’t deserve any help and Kerala neglected Kasargod etc. Help them during this disaster. What we have learned from the Covid crisis is this, nobody is safe in this world. Any time a disaster can occur to anybody. Don’t think that disasters are caused only by eating bats. Tomorrow anything can happen. Even if you have not done a single mistake in your entire life, disaster may strike you also. So forget past mistakes and stop blame games and help each other.

  19. Kerala which is praised for its great growth in education, health care etc., etc., is a small state.
    If it cannot have these facilities, there is nothing to boast about.
    Kannur being a political hot-spot is neglected but communists there are more targeting in murdering opposition.
    They are not able to get development reach them.
    Pathetic state, kerala

  20. The majority of patients in hospitals in Mangalore and adjoining areas like Manipal and students at educational institutions at these places are from Kerala. These institutions are thriving on the money of people of Kerala state. It is ungrateful on the part of Karnataka to unlawfully close the state boundaries and prohibit the people of Kerala and put their lives in peril. Kerala should take this as a lesson and stop blindly depending on a state like Karnataka, which unlike Tamil Nadu has strong parochialism and establish own hospitals and institutions at border district. Karnataka will learn lesson only when their business running on Kerala money will lose. It is heartening to notice that our wealthy NRI business men had already noticed this and came forward with the idea of investing on Hospitals in Kazargod district.

    • Dinesh, you should be ashamed for lying so much. Not even 10% of the students in those districts come from Kerala. And the rest who come, don’t come for charity but rather come because they see benefits in coming to Karnataka. Secondly, Kerala in General and Kasaragod/Kannur in particular have a well documented history of causing unrest in Mangaluru. They have already taken multiple Covid beds throughout the district. Even during the Anti-CAA protests, lots of rabid Islamic Extremists came from Kasaragod/Kannur and caused communal unrest in Mangaluru. The Kerala government callously washed their hands off the matter.

    • Kerala is known for unemployment and Goonda Raj. Let them open hospitals and educational institutions in their districts. The fact is even interdistrict boundaries are closed in KannurKasargod. Yesterday few culprits threw stones on Karnataka policemen bordering KodaguKerala. This is what Kerala is known for? Don’t we know the fact that Kerala( so called developed state) is dumping medical waste in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu illegally?

    • Kerala students are studying in 165 covind 19 effected countries in the world .(all financial benefits of Kerala’s goes to that countries ) will you able to demand benefits from those countries same thing for Karnataka also ,if everyone feels rejected by Karnataka don’t send children for studies , select places you may get benefits .After studies all will fly out of INDIA .

    • Of Kerala realy has so much money in which Karnataka is thriving as per u den y don’t Kerala build a hospital for covid patients and stop relying on Karnataka and jeopardizing our safety. Des so called nris of Kerala are to be blamed for the disease so let Kerala handle y thruting such patients to us and putting our lives in danger due to irresoi to behavior of keralites y shud responsible ppl of Karnataka suffer

    • I really do not understand on what basis Kerala is asking for help from Karnataka ?

      1) If you know your CM’s well, 8 out of 22 times the government was elected, the CM was from Northern most district of Kerala and still no good hospital.s to treat patients with Corona.

      2) Kerala Govt must have learnt from the previous epidemic in Kerala (nipah virus) which also incidentally was from Kozhikode and Kannur (Northern districts) that more good hospitals should be set up.

      3) About schools, Kindly let us know 1 good boarding school in Kerala. Well NRI’s earn so they can lead a comfortable life and send their kids to good schools which are in Karnataka. If there were good schools in Kerala why would they send their kids here? And as per you if schools and hospitals in Karnataka is thriving because of Kerala’s NRI money it is because of you as you have chosen successive governments which provides education but no jobs and job security.

      4) Can you name 1 really good company from Kerala (other than gold and finance company) which provides large scale employment in Kerala. Well Infosys and Wipro head quartered in Bengaluru have their centre’s in Kerala.

      5) Karnataka has not closed the border illegally. It is a national lockdown. You may be able to roam around in Kerala spreading the disease but it is different in Karnataka as the government here have strict policies to fight against the virus. All the districts within Karnataka are closed leave alone state borders.

      Dear friend instead of blaming others kindly look into your own self and instead of trolling Modiji kindly look what your government is doing to contain this virus.

      Abhilash Krishnan.

  21. Clear case of not taking care of the problems by Kerala govt and trying to blame others. The movement of patients to the state’s dedicated Covid-19 hospitals should not be politicised. Language barriers will be minimal when there is no inter-state patients.

  22. Well, most of the Corona case in Mangalore does come from Kasargod. If the patients are indeed allowed and Mangalore becomes the next hotspot I don’t think Kerala would take the responsibility. Mangalore has kept the situation under control so far. I think opening border would definitely put the effort put so far to control the pandemic would go in vain. Why to always speak from one side. It’s not that old news that many of the recent riot participants were from Kasargod.

  23. Kasargod became part of kerala during states reorganisation in 1956. But the kerala successive govts neglected this area all these years because locals are kannadigas. For all this mess kerala govt is responsible not karnataka govt.

  24. Please write correctly referring to geography.
    Mangalore and Manipal are city and town respectively and not districts.
    Every govt that ruled Kerala so far have neglected Kadrgod like anything and now they want Karnataka Govt be humanitarian. Why there was no humanitarian approach by the successive govts in building large hospitals in Kasargod district? Bogus charge.

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