Opposition calls for Bevco-like easing of controls. CM rules out further relaxations

Thiruvananthapuram: The Opposition on Tuesday wanted the Kerala government to rethink its existing COVID-19 controls considering the financial troubles of the public aggravated by the prevailing lockdowns in various forms.   

However, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that there was nothing wrong in the government's strategy.

"None of the experts we had consulted found anything amiss with our strategy, " he said, while responding to the adjournment motion moved by Muslim League leader P K Kunhalikutty in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.

"All of them had said that there was nothing more that we could do," the Chief Minister said.

Kunhalikutty, who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, termed the prevailing controls "unscientific". 

"You keep all shops closed and when one day you open them people swarm these shops like flies on sweet. When they return, along with the stuff they had brought, they carry COVID, too, with them, " Kunhalikutty commented.

He asked the government to make social distancing and mask-wearing a regular norm and allow normal life. "You have done that in the case of Beverages Corporation outlets. Why not apply such a system for other shops, too, and allow life to return to normal," Kunhalikutty reasoned. 

Satheesan cites figures

Opposition leader V D Satheesan also ridiculed the existing controls. Controlled opening of shops, he said would increase crowding in front of shops. "When you take decisions do not rely solely on what the bureaucrats tell you. Apply a bit of common sense, too, " the Opposition Leader said.

The Congress legislator contended the Kerala economy had suffered near total destruction during the pandemic.

The primary sector, including agriculture, saw a 74 percent decline during the COVID-19 lockdowns and 46 percent fall when strict controls were lifted, Satheesan claimed.

"The fall in growth in the secondary sector, including manufacturing, was 88 percent during lockdown. Even during periods of less controls, the fall is 81 percent. The service sector, including tourism, has seen a 79 percent fall in growth during lockdowns and a drop of 55 percent in other periods," the opposition leader explained. 

Daily wagers and labourers in the unorganised sector were the most affected, he added.

CM's stand

The Chief Minister, while ruling out any immediate change in the existing restrictions, said that controls were only in C and D category local bodies where the test positivity rate for the disease was over 10 percent. He also said controls were eased in various sectors like construction, agriculture, trade and small industry.

But here is the major reason why the Chief Minister is against the lifting of existing controls. According to him there had been instances of even A category local bodies where the TPR was below 5 percent, getting re-designated as C and D types as the cases of COVID-19 spiked. "This shows that when relaxations were eased in these areas, the people in these regions forgot to adhere to COVID protocols, " the chief minister argued. 

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