New Delhi: Hours after the Centre accused the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government of obstructing a Central team deputed to assess the coronavirus ground situation, the state government wrote a letter to the Home Ministry, giving an assurance that it will abide by all Union government orders. Also Read - Coronavirus: Locals in Bengal's Alipurduar Protest Against Burial of COVID-19 Victim, Clash With Cops
West Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha sent the letter Tuesday night, hours after the central government had directed the state government not to obstruct working of the two central teams. Also Read - Coronavirus: 'Situation Serious in Mumbai, Pune, Indore, Jaipur And West Bengal,' MHA Tells States
In the letter to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, the West Bengal Chief Secretary said it was not a fact that the two Inter Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) have not been provided with any cooperation by the state government since he had two meetings with one team and also was in touch with the other. Also Read - Bengaluru COVID-19 Attack: Karnataka Government Swings Into Action; 59 Arrested, 5 FIRs Filed
“This is to convey my highest assurances for the implementation of the orders of central government issued under the Disaster Management Act as well as the directions of the Honb’le Supreme Court,” the state chief secretary told the union home secretary.
A home ministry spokesperson welcomed the West Bengal government’s assurance of cooperation to the two visiting teams.
The Centre had also accused the West Bengal government of not cooperating with the central teams and also said that the state government was specifically restraining the teams from interacting with health workers and touring the affected areas.
The West Bengal chief secretary wrote: “It is not a fact that the IMCT has not been provided with any cooperation by the state government”.
“In fact the teams had arrived without any prior consultation with us and, therefore, there was neither such opportunity to provide any logistic support as envisaged in the order dated April 19 nor the team asked for any help,” he said.
Sinha also referred to his telephonic discussions with Bhalla on April 21 and highlighted “the pro-active steps taken by the state government for effective implementation of lockdown measures to contain the spread of COVID-19”.
A total of six IMCTs have been deputed to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal to review the implementation of the lockdown measures after making on-spot assessment of the situation prevailing in identified select districts.
Two of these teams have been sent to West Bengal — one team to Kolkata, Howrah, North 24 Parganas and East Medinipur and the other team to Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Kalimpong.
The home ministry had on Monday said COVID-19 situation is “especially serious” in Mumbai, Pune, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata and a few other places in West Bengal, and violation of lockdown measures risk the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress, however, dubbed the visit of the central teams as “adventure tourism” and asked why such delegations were not sent to states with much higher numbers of infections and hotspots.
TMC MPs Derek O’Brien and Sudip Bandyopadhyay Tuesday claimed that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was informed about the teams’ visit three hours after their arrival in the state, which they said was unacceptable.
(With agency inputs)