Kerala

Chief Secretary contradicted Health Minister: Oppn.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan said in the Assembly on Thursday that the Chief Secretary had “disrespected” the legislature by issuing an order contradicting a Rule 300 statement made on the floor of the House by Health Minister Veena George.

Raising a point of order, Mr. Satheesan said Ms. George had informed the House on Wednesday that the government had lifted the curbs on non-essential retail, some in-person services and public travel from July 5.

The Opposition benches had welcomed the statement. The UDF felt it was high time Kerala learnt to live with COVID-19. Pandemic mitigation and economic revival should march in tandem.

The Minister’s statement notwithstanding, the Chief Secretary promulgated an order that reinstated the curbs the government said it had eased, Mr. Satheesan said.

“As per the order, a person venturing out to buy two kg of rice should furnish a ₹500 RTPCR negative certificate or risk arrest and heavy fine,” Mr. Satheesan said.

Bureaucratic hegemony

“It is a clear example of unempathetic bureaucratic hegemony. The Chief Secretary’s order ran against the founding spirit of Parliamentary democracy,” he said.

The Minister said that, optimally, only persons who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should venture out of home for shopping or other errands.

The Chief Secretary instead interpreted advice as a rule. He handed the law enforcement a stick to penalise citizens laid low by the pandemic.

As per the order, the police could slap huge fines on citizens without COVID-19 vaccination or RTPCR test certification.

‘Fine State’

The Chief Secretary had made Kerala “a fine State”. The government played second fiddle to the bureaucratic overreach, he said.

Mr. Satheesan said the UDF would not allow the government to distress the people further in the name of unscientific, heavy-handed and arbitrary pandemic regulations.

Congress MLA P.C. Vishnunath demanded action against the errant officials responsible for promulgating the “dubious order” and, in the process, holding the Assembly in contempt.


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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 5:27:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/chief-secretary-contradicted-health-minister-oppn/article35748741.ece

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