After Maharashtra, Left-ruled Kerala has raised objections to the handling of special trains by the Railways ministry, saying its method of sending trains without prior information could derail the state's protocol to control the coronavirus. Kerala has done a very effective job so far in curbing the infection -- a matter that has been mentioned in foreign media as well. On Tuesday, while Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the issue, his finance minister Thomas Isaac alleged that the railways "want to be the super spreader" of the disease in Kerala.
The state so far had 896 coronavirus cases. 72 people who returned from Maharashtra have tested positive for coronavirus in Kerala along with 71 from Tamil Nadu and 35 from Karnataka.
On Tuesday, Kerala recorded 67 new COVID19 cases - of which 27 are repatriated Indians, 33 returned from other states and seven were among the primary contacts who got infected.
The Chief Minister said Kerala had no objections to its people returning home. But lack of prior information is proving a problem and it could derail or "subvert" the state's anti-coronavirus programme, he added.
"A train from Mumbai came without Kerala being informed. This will subvert the surveillance system. I raised it with railway minister. But after this another train was scheduled for Kerala without informing the state. This will derail or subvert the state's attempts to contain COVID 19. I have raised this with the Prime Minister," Mr Vijayan said.
Finance minister Thomas Isaac tweeted:
A train came from Mumbai last week. We were intimated only after train started . Unscheduled stops. Majority of passengers no passes. Anarchy in pandemic times.Railways want to be super spreader in Kerala. Stop ranting and behave responsibly. At least try to track your trains.— Thomas Isaac (@drthomasisaac) May 26, 2020
Passengers arriving in Kerala are screened at the railway station and sent for home quarantine.
"We need to have the list in advance so that we can ensure proper arrangements for screening and home quarantine," Mr Vijayan said. "Any failure to do so will undermine the measures taken by the government to ensure proper monitoring to prevent the spread of the disease," the Chief Minister added.
The spike in coronavirus cases in opposition-ruled Maharsahtra has become a huge political issue. The former Chief Minister, the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis, has been regularly accusing the Uddhav Thackeray government of failing to control the pandemic.
Maharashtra is also engaged in a tussle with the Centre over the running of special trains for migrants. While the state has accused the Centre of not providing an adequate number of trains, the Centre said it could not run the trains for lack of passengers. Over the last weeks, huge crowds of people have been seen outside the railway stations in Mumbai.