The confusion over the Karnataka-Kerala state border in Talapady continued on Saturday with health officials from Dakshina Kannada district setting up a COVID-19 screening centre on the Kerala side of the border. However, the officials said that the COVID-19 test was not mandatory and no one will be blocked from entering Dakshina Kannada if they do not carry a negative COVID-19 test.
On Friday, health officials once again began checks for negative COVID-19 test certificates for those entering Karnataka through the border area. The checks were stopped after pressure from local residents since a large number of people from border areas in Kasaragod district of Kerala study or work in and around Mangaluru city, which is just 22 km away from the border.
A COVID-19 testing/screening checkpost set up at Talapady border between Karnataka and Kerala today (on the Kerala side). Health officials from Dakshina Kannada are asking travelers from Kasargod to Dakshina Kannada to get tested for COVID-19 but it is not made mandatory yet. pic.twitter.com/YeLTrAGxXpâ€” Prajwal (@prajwalmanipal) March 20, 2021
On Saturday morning, there was no blockade at the border but health officials from Dakshina Kannada urged commuters between the two states to get tested for COVID-19. â€śThose coming from Kerala need to take a COVID-19 test. No one is stopping them here on the road but we are asking them to get a test done. It is our duty to ask and we will be taking the tests here,â€ť Pradeep, a health official from Dakshina Kannada district, said.
Sahyatri, a Twitter page created to voice the concerns of commuters from Kasaragod to Dakshina Kannada, said on Friday morning that a negative-RT PCR certificate was once again mandated at the Talapady border. However, the checking was stopped in the afternoon, a few hours after it was started.
Now Karnataka is asking for compulsary RT PCR test report submission before entering Karnataka from Kerala.â€” SAHAYATHRI (@sahayaathri) March 19, 2021
Unfortunately we don't have sufficient Corona testing centres in Kasaragod & Manjeshwar.
@CMOKerala @sajithrevenuedc @19Kasaragod @AdvkShreekanth @surendranbjp
Local residents are however exasperated with this constant change in stand. â€śYesterday, there were checks for a negative COVID-19 certificate. Today, thereâ€™s a screening centre at the border. We donâ€™t know what will come up tomorrow. We want the district administration in Dakshina Kannada to clarify the status of the border. If the cases are rising in Dakshina Kannada, why donâ€™t they issue orders to close down their schools and colleges?,â€ť asked Rashid Mohyideen, a Kasaragod resident who was at the border checkpost on Saturday.
The Talapady border turned into a source of conflict between Karnataka and Kerala during the national lockdown enforced in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 cases. The border was sealed during the lockdown and ambulances with patients coming from Kasaragod district to hospitals in Mangaluru were turned away at the border.
In many border areas including Manjeshwar and Kunjathur, patients avail medical facilities in Mangaluru and Karnataka's refusal to allow patients with medical emergencies to cross the border led to a court tussle between the two states over the issue. At that time, there were a higher number of COVID-19 cases reported in Kasaragod district.
In April 2020, the Kerala government approached the Kerala High Court over the blockade, which directed the Centre to intervene in the matter and order Karnataka to open up the border. While Karnataka challenged the order in the Supreme Court, the issue was resolved following talks between the two state chief secretaries.
The issue has not died down since then. In July 2020, Kasaragod district officials were accused of blocking access from the same border for travellers from Dakshina Kannada after a spike in COVID-19 cases in Karnataka.
A system of daily passes created for daily commuters between the two states was briefly suspended when the Kerala government asked those working in Dakshina Kannada to stay there for a period of 28 days
Last month, the Dakshina Kannada district administration once again restricted entry for commuters from Kerala and mandated that a negative COVID-19 test certificate is needed to cross the border. While the enforcement of the order was not strict, it was challenged in the Karnataka High Court which rebuked the Karnataka government for not modifying the order and said that it was against the Union government's regulations. The Union governmentâ€™s Unlock regulations allow for free movement between states.