Congress and BJP leaders on Saturday reacted sharply to a new Kerala government order which insists on a COVID negative certificate from all those who are arriving from abroad on chartered flights.
This new order will become applicable from June 20.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said it was surprising that the Pinarayi Vijayan government which passed a unanimous resolution in the Kerala Assembly to bring back all the Kerala diaspora without any testing, has now come out with a totally different order.
It was on March 12 that the Kerala Assembly passed the resolution after the Union Civil Aviation ministry demanded a COVID negative certificate from those who were coming from Italy and South Korea.
“This new guideline is not applicable to those coming on Vande Bharat flights. It’s sad that those coming on chartered flights are those who do not have any money and now with this new direction they will have to spend from their pocket. This is totally unacceptable and this irresponsible order should be withdrawn,” said Chennithala.
“What’s even more surprising is that the COVID negative certificate should not be older than 48 hours before the flight departs. Fail to understand the logic and what needs to be done is, there should be a pre-departure health check up. And once they arrive, the isolation/quarantine norms should be asked to be followed. This somersault is not acceptable at all,” added Chennithala.
According to sources in the know of things, a COVID test in the UAE costs Rs 7000 and in countries like Saudi Arabia, it takes 2 to 7 days to get the COVID negative certificate.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan expressed shock at this turnaround by the Kerala government.
“Such a rule is not there in any state. This new rule is the least practical. This is a cruel order and hugely detrimental to the Kerala diaspora waiting to return,” said Muraleedharan.
Senior Indian Union Muslim League leader and Lok Sabha member P.K. Kunhalikutty said this order should be immediately withdrawn as it’s going to create problems for many who were ready to travel on chartered flights.
Various organisations in the Middle East are operating around 100 chartered flights in June.
Vijayan had on June 3 informed that the only conditions that they have put forward as far as chartered flights are concerned is the fare should be comparable with that of the Vande Bharat flights, and preference should be given to women, elderly.
Close to four lakh Keralites have registered on the Norka-Roots web portal, expressing their desire to return. Till Friday, over 60,000 people had already arrived.
The sudden turnaround is on account of the spike in cases, especially after May 7 when the first flight from the Middle East arrived in the state.
As on Friday, 1303 people are currently active patients in the state and it includes a sizeable number of the returning diaspora.