Karnataka: Again, ministers not on same page in Covid fight | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: With the state facing an imminent second wave of Covid infections, the lack of coordination among ministers and contradictory views from those at the helm is not only not helping the fight against the pandemic but is also creating confusion among those on the ground.
“The problem of lack of coordination among ministers has returned,” said a senior health department official. “This had hampered Covid management last year too. It appears ministers have not learnt from experience.”
Chief minister BS Yedyiurappa appears to be aware of the issue and sources say his office has instructed health minister K Sudhakar and his department not to arbitrarily issue orders relating to containment measures.
The bone of contention ahead of a meeting chaired by the CM on Monday to take stock of the pandemic situation in the state was the clash between the health and education departments over conduct of exams. Sudhakar had told reporters on Sunday that students from class 1 to 9 would be promoted without them taking final exams.
S Suresh Kumar, education minister, was reportedly taken by surprise by the announcement and his department was flooded with queries from schools and parents. Kumar played down the issue saying, “It was a miscommunication. Sudhakar called me on Monday and said he was misquoted.”
Even home minister Basavaraj Bommai was said to be displeased with reported unilateral statements by the health department on possible curbs such as a lockdown and night curfew.
The CM’s censure, coupled with his decision to ignore measures recommended by the health department, has reportedly upset Sudhakar. Health department sources say that during the 150-minute meeting the CM chaired on Monday, Sudhakar’s requests for stringent measures fell on deaf ears.
For instance, he wanted hostels and educational institutions that don’t have key exams like SSLC or PUC to close for two weeks. “During the meeting, the health minister had said cases could touch 30,000 per day in the absence of curbs,” an official said. Among other things, he also proposed to restrict occupancy in cinema halls to 50%.
However, Sudhakar denied accusations of overreach. “Given that children are vulnerable to the infection and can potentially spread it to seniors at home, I only made a request to the education minister to close places where cluster outbreaks can happen. I have not crossed any boundaries.”
SR Viswanath, the CM’s political secretary, said the situation is challenging and that different departments have their own priorities. “The health department is responsible for curbing infections and wants strict containment measures, while departments like finance and excise are worried about falling revenues. The CM is taking steps to address these issues,” Viswanath said.

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Sagar Biswas

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