Centre raps Kerala for easing restrictions, says states must not dilute lockdown provisions

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Updated: April 20, 2020 11:29:15 AM

The Centre has taken strong objection to the Kerala government's decision to allow prohibited activities during the lockdown. The MHA said state's decision amounts to dilution of its lockdown guidelines.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File Photo

Taking a stern view of states announcing easing of restrictions during the lockdown period, the central government on Monday warned state governments and union territories against diluting the provisions of the lockdown and defying the guidelines issued by it. In a letter to Chief Secretaries of all states and UTs on Sunday, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla drew their attention to the Centre’s guidelines and asked them to strictly enforce the provisions under Disaster Management Act, 2005. It also cited observations of the Supreme Court in the matter.

“It has come to notice that some of the states/UTs are issuing orders allowing activities which have not been allowed as per guidelines issued by MDA under the Disaster Management Act, 2005,” MHA said in its letter to states.

“I would urge you to ensure compliance of the revised consolidated guidelines and direct all concerned authorities for their strict implementation in the letter and spirit without any dilution and to ensure strict compliance of lockdown measures,” it added.

The Centre’s tough talk to states comes after Kerala went ahead and announced the easing of certain restrictions during the ongoing lockdown period to kickstart economic activities gradually. In a separate letter to the Pinnarayi Vijayan government, the Centre pulled up Kerala over its decision to ease restrictions in the state, overlooking New Delhi’s guidelines during the nationwide lockdown. The MHA noted that the state has allowed activities that are prohibited by the Centre in its revised guidelines issued on April 15 and said its actions amount to “dilution of its lockdown guidelines”.

The Pinarayi VIjayan government has allowed opening of restaurants, bus travel in cities and opening of MSME industries in certain municipal areas in the state. The revised guidelines for lockdown measures was announced by the state government on April 17, two days after the Home Ministry released fresh guidelines for the coronavirus 19 lockdown, which has been extended till May 3.

“This amounts to dilution of guidelines issued by the Home Ministry and violation of its April 15 order issued under the Disaster Management Act 2005,” the MHA letter reads. On Sunday, the state reported two positive coronavirus cases, taking the total number of affected to 401. Three people have lost their lives in the state so far.

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