The implementation of the High Court order mandating the requirement to have a Covid-19 negative certificate for anyone wanting to enter Goa has rubbed feathers of residents of Uttar Kannada on the wrong side.
A group of taxi drivers accompanied by Satish Sail,
ex MLA of Karwar descended at Polem check post recently and have warned the Goa administration that if the police deny them the entry and insist on a Covid-19 negative certificate than they will block all vehicles with Goa registration at Mazali check post.
Satish Sail, ex MLA of Karwar assembly constituency along with hundreds of taxi drivers owing allegiance to Saibaba Karwar taxi union took a
morcha at the Polem gate recently and voiced their grievances in front of Karwar and Goan media.
It may be recalled that the High Court in response to a public interest litigation in its judgement has mandated the requirement of a Covid-19 negative certificate for any one wishing to enter Goa.
The PIL was filed as Goa was witnessing high Covid-19 cases on a daily basis.
This has once again given
rise to a straight tussle between the residents of Uttar Kannada district and the law enforcement agencies at the Goa border.
These type of confrontation is not new in these region as, as recently as one year ago the local residents had literally forced to open the Polem border to them when the borders well sealed for anyone trying to enter Goa due to the unprecedented rise in Covid-19 cases both in
Goa and Karnataka.
Prior to that, the unilateral decision by the Parrikar government to implement entry tax at the borders of Goa also had brought the residents of Uttar Kannada head to head with the Goan administration.
Speaking to media at the Polem check post Sail informed that it is an injustice to the taxi and others as they are are asked to show a proof of negative
RT- PCR test every time they enter Goa.
The Covid-19 negative certificate is however valid for only 72 hours.
“How can the taxi drivers who get a call to drop passengers to hospitals, airports and other emergencies get a proof of NT-PCR test within minutes before they leave for Goa”, questioned the Karwar MLA Satish Sail.
He stated that this exercise at the border by the Goa police
is very impractical, it may be mandatory for the passengers who enter the state of Goa to produce a negative certificate, but for the taxi drivers who return to Karnataka within a few hours it’s impossible to get the test done every time they enter Goa he argued.
A taxi driver accompanying the delegation said that they have to stand in queue for hours to get tested and it takes 48 hours and
sometimes more for the RT-PCR test results to reach the individual.
“How can the taxi drivers provide this proof in a matter of minutes questioned the same driver.
Most taxi drivers informed that this is injustice to them, as they have not earned anything from the past two weeks from the time Goa government made the covid negative certificate mandatory for all except
essential services drivers they said.
Sail argued that when the authorities in Karnataka are allowing the Goa registered drivers to enter Karnataka via Mazali Check Post without any mandatory test for Covid, why are they making things worse for the taxi drivers from Karwar he asked.
Seeking immediate withdrawal of the mandatory order for drivers to have proof of negative RT-PCR test, the
taximen who mostly belonged to the SaiBaba Karwar taxi union said if the Goa government does not give relief to them, they will protest and block the Goa registered vehicles entering Karnataka via the Mazali Check post at Mazali.
However Swadesh Desai, a PSI posted at Polem check post responded to the Karwar taxi drivers demand saying that they are following the directions from the High
Court, otherwise it would be contempt of court order he informed.
Only ambulances and persons with proof of medical emergency and drivers of vehicles carrying essential services are exempted from producing a Covid-19 negative certificate, Desai informed.
Desai requested the Karwar MLA to seek assistance from the Goa government through the Deputy Commissioner of
Karwar to resolve the issue of entry into the state for the taxi drivers without Covid-19 negative certificate.