Amid row over the new measures introduced by Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel, the island administration on Monday extended the complete shutdown there by a week.
The administration cited rising number of Covid-19 infections as the reason behind the move. The complete shutdown in the region was first announced on May 24.
The developments come in the backdrop of protests in the region over a slew of new measures introduced by Patel, which include beef ban, land amendment regulations and introduction of the draft of the anti-social activities regulation bill. The islanders have protested these regulations and others claiming that they threaten the locals’ unique way of living.
On Monday, Lakshadweep district collector S Asker Ali, in an order, also announced a night curfew in five islands, including Kiltan and Chetlath.
He said the present situation made it necessary to regulate movement of people, enhance testing capacity, ensure strict enforcement of prescribed containment strategies, focus on surveillance and strict observance of standard Covid-19 protocol to prevent further spread of the virus as per the latest guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Many essential services, including water supply, fire, electricity, police, health, disaster management, shipping, guest house, BSNL, people managing Covid-19, Indian Navy and Coast Guard have been exempted from the shutdown on production of ID-card with COVID negative test report, the order said.
"Non-compliance will be taken seriously by the authority and appropriate actions will be taken as per the relevant sections of the Disaster Management Act-2015 and Indian Penal Code," it said.
According to officials, there are 2,006 active cases in the islands. The test positivity rate was comparatively high in Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Androth, Amini and Minicoy, they said.
Authorities said the 'corona curfew' enforced in all islands with different timings and exemptions has become an effective tool in the overall containment strategy.
Last week, the Kerala High Court had dismissed a plea challenging a single bench order in which the court accepted the Lakshadweep administration's contentions in support of the revision of Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) in connection with the Covid-19 management in the islands.
The single bench had dismissed a plea challenging the revised SOP issued on December 22 last year, which substituted the earlier mandatory institutional and home quarantine of all persons travelling to the island, with just a negative test report of RT-PCR, obtained 48 hours before the travel.
Kerala Assembly Passes Resolution Seeking Recall Of Lakshadweep Administrator
The Kerala Assembly on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution seeking Patel's recall, becoming the first state in the country to express solidarity with the islands.
The hard-hitting resolution alleged attempts were being made to impose "saffron agendas" and "corporate interests" by destroying the unique way of life of Lakshadweep people.
The BJP slammed the resolution adopted by the Assembly against the Central government appointed administrator and said the House had no authority to do so.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar had earlier written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting his intervention in the matter, while criticising Patel's administrative measures.
(With PTI inputs)