The ministry of home affairs has taken strong objection to the Kerala government’s decision to allow barber shops, book shops, and public transport in select areas of the state, calling it a “dilution” of lockdown guidelines. The Union home secretary, in a strongly worded letter to Kerala chief secretary, has said the MHA guidelines under the disaster management Act cannot be violated by the states.
“I would like to draw your attention to clause 4(i) and (ii) of these guidelines which mentions that states and union Territories will not dilute the guidelines issued under the disaster management act and shall strictly enforce the same,” Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla said in his letter.
Quoting the Supreme Court directive, Bhalla said: “Your attention is also drawn to the order of 31.03.2020 in which the supreme court observed — we trust and expect that state government’s will faithfully comply with directives and orders of union of India in letter and spirit in the interest of public safety.”
The decision of the Kerala government to open restaurants, MSME industries in municipal areas, barber shops and book stores as part of relaxations in the lockdown due to coronavirus has been termed as “violation” of MHA guidelines.
The Kerala government, meanwhile, has clarified that public transport will not be allowed anywhere in the state. Officials said a revised Daily Order will be issued correcting the “mistake of allowing public transport”.
The MHA has also asked the state government to issue a fresh order withdrawing permissions to open barber shops, restaurant and MSMEs.
In Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Kollam, districts under Orange A zone, partial relaxation from the lockdown will be given from April 24, while Orange B districts Alappuzha, Trivandrum, Palakkad, Wayanad and Thrissur will get partial relaxation from Monday.
The state has greatly managed to flatten the curve as fresh daily cases have dropped to the single-digit level and number of people getting discharged from hospitals greatly outnumbering new admissions. In the last 7 days, there have been just 32 new cases, while 129 Covid-19 patients have been discharged in the same time period.
The government has classified two districts, Kottayam and ldukki, in the green zone, that will greatly see restrictions being lifted from Monday.
Union Home Ministry has also written to all other states and UTs asking them to strictly follow the MHA guidelines and not give any relaxation beyond what MHA has allowed.
(With inputs from Neethu Reghukumar)
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