THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With Kerala achieving considerable progress in its COVID fight, Chief Minster Pinarayi Vijayan has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to empower the state to make amendments to the lockdown guidelines prescribed by the Centre. Pinarayi pitched for more decision-making powers during the meeting convened by Modi with various chief ministers through video-conferencing on Monday. Pinararyi said states should be entrusted with the task of commencing public transport with restrictions based on the ‘prevailing situation’.
He also demanded that metro rail services be allowed in cities not coming under red zones. Domestic airline services can be resumed adhering to protocols in the states of origin of journey and destination. However, curbs should be imposed on travel from containment zones. Those with COVID symptoms should not be allowed to fly and medical checks must be carried out at domestic airports. The state should be allowed to resume three-wheeler service after assessing the situation in each district, but with curbs on the number of passengers, he said.
CM asks Centre to allow home quarantine for all returnees
In the wake of a few returnees from abroad testing positive, Pinaryi said rapid antibody tests should be made mandatory on all expatriates before they board the flight. If such a test is not carried out, there are chances of many passengers being infected, he warned. Pinarayi told Modi that the state has a very effective home quarantine mechanism which also reduces pressure on institutional quarantine facilities.
Therefore, people who return to the state, including those from abroad, should be allowed to opt for home quarantine, he urged. Inter-state travel Pinarayi told the prime minister that inter-state travel should be allowed only with strict restrictions.
If a person is travelling through many states, passes from the states of origin and destination should suffice. The norm that special passes should be obtained from each state on the way should be done away with, he demanded. The CM informed Modi about the state’s firm adherence to the norm of providing passes to those who wish to enter the state. If such a norm is not implemented, there will be huge rush at the state’s entry points. This will also lead to violation of social distancing norms, he reminded. Pinarayi also asked for more trains to bring back Keralites stranded in other states.
Pinarayi reminded the PM of the state’s demand to introduce schemes that ensure income for those who are facing financial stress during lockdown. He urged the Centre to increase the borrowing limit of the state and to sanction more funds with low interest. He also stressed the need for urgent assistance for the state’s micro, small & medium enterprise sector and workers in the unorganised sector. Pinarayi told Modi about the state’s plans to step up cultivation to increase food production in the state. He urged the Centre to include cultivation of fallow land under the purview of MNREGS.