After drawing criticism for making it mandatory for the Kerala diaspora returning from abroad to possess COVID negative certificates, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said the returnees will have to wear PPE kits.
Vijayan said this after chairing a weekly Cabinet meeting. The health certificates for returnees was earlier made mandatory from June 20, but later the date was postponed to June 25.
According to sources, Vijayan has now insisted that it would be the responsibility of the airlines to ensure that all arriving passengers wore PPE kits.
Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who has been pleading with Vijayan not to impose “impractical” suggestions, welcomed the new decision.
“Our only demand has been that any decision taken should be practical. Insisting on health certificates was impractical. How is it possible for our people to get it when many countries in the Middle East do not have such facilities? With regards to the PPE kits, we urge the Kerala government to provide passengers with the protective gear,” said Chandy.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said it was “most unfortunate that a person like Vijayan had no clue of what he is doing” and was thus coming up with “strange ideas” and then had to change his own decisions.
“There is nothing to welcome in the PPE kits decision. Why did Vijayan put so much pressure on our own diaspora? 300 of our people have died abroad. We are continuing our protests and we demand that Vijayan should come out with suitable rehabilitation packages for the returnees,” said Chennithala.
Senior Indian Union Muslim League Lok Sabha member P.K. Kunhalikutty said one failed to understand why Vijayan was making “impractical decisions” with regards to bringing back the Kerala diaspora.
“From what all he has been doing, it’s very clear that he does not want our diaspora to return. And now the new decision on wearing PPE kits — one will have to wait to hear more, whether there is any catch in it.”
Since May 7, 80,000 Kerala natives have returned to the state from abroad. State-owned Norka-Roots website has registrations preferred by around four lakh people.