Why can’t Chennai alone be under lockdown, Madras HC asks TN govt

The bench wanted to know whether the government has devised any special scheme, like a complete lockdown or curfew to contain the spread in Chennai and surrounding areas for sometime

lockdown extension, coronavirus, COVID-19, Lockdown, Coronavirus outbreak, Ministry of Home Affairs, travel restrictions
With nearly 26,000 COVID cases, Chennai accounts for over 70 percent of Tamil Nadu's tally. Representational image: PTI

Observing that the COVID-19 situation in Chennai and its suburbs is turning out to be alarming, with a spike in confirmed cases, the Madras High Court on Thursday (June 11) asked why a complete lockdown cannot be implemented for some time to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Despite the steps taken by the Tamil Nadu government to contain the COVID-19 spread, the number of cases is “steeply rising and the situation has become alarming”, particularly in the metropolis and its outskirts, a bench of justices, Vineet Kothari, and R Suresh Kumar, said.

“Therefore, we want to know whether the government has devised any special scheme, which includes a complete lockdown or curfew to contain the spread in Chennai and surrounding areas for sometime,” the judges asked state government leader V Jayaprakash Narayan during the virtual court proceedings.

The judges clarified that they raised questions about the lockdown only as citizens of the state and the city, in the interest of public, and were not initiating any public interest litigation (PIL) proceedings suo motu (on its own).

With nearly 26,000 cases, the metropolis accounts for over 70 percent of the state’s tally, and the justices of the bench said they were worried about the rising number of deaths (326).

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Responding to the court’s query, the pleader sought time till Friday for getting instructions from the government, if any.

He also pointed to guidelines issued when the government extended the lockdown till June 30 in the state and announced various relaxations, including allowing public transport in other parts of the state.

“No further decision has been taken. I will get instructions from the special officer, J Radhakrishnan, who has been appointed to coordinate COVID-19 work in Chennai, and other officials on the latest development by tomorrow,” the pleaded added.

In the latest lockdown relaxations, the state government has allowed the functioning of shops, dine-in services in hotels, and private sector offices with more workforce, but barred public transport buses and trains in the city and its neighbouring three districts, where the case load is high. The government also recently appointed a group of ministers to monitor containment activity in the city.

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