Central teams don’t need to teach state how to implement lockdown, says Bengal chief secretary; Centre sternly asks govt to cooperate

Under the backdrop of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation across the country, the Centre and the West Bengal government have been engaged in a war of words for the past two days.

West Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha on Tuesday said that a Central team would not necessarily be able to analyse the situation better than the state government by visiting the areas, “sitting in their vehicles or from guest houses”. “They too need to take precautions and we have asked them to take adequate safety measures,” he said. “But right now, we are busy working, and it is difficult to spare time to attend to them. We have asked an officer from the state to accompany them, and we are still trying amidst all the work that we have to do in this difficult situation,” he said. He added he had no idea how these teams would take stock of the situation from their positions while the government was working at the forefront.

On Monday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi – and had tweeted on this too – that the Centre was not clear why they were sending the teams to Bengal. The chief secretary had said that the teams would not be allowed to visit areas unless they convinced the government about reasons for their visit. The team in Kolkata called on Sinha later in the evening, and the chief secretary called on them on Tuesday morning.

Apurva Chandra, who is leading the team in Kolkata, told the media during the day that the state government had told them that their visits will not be possible today due to “some issues”. He added that such teams have been sent to other states too where they have been getting “full support” from the respective state governments. The teams stayed at the BSF guest house in Kolkata throughout the day. Around 4.30 pm, however, they left the guest house and went to visit some areas.

In Delhi, the Central government spokesperson, in a press conference said that a letter had been sent to the Bengal government asking them to cooperate with the teams. This is mandatory under the law, the spokesperson said. “Such teams have been deployed in four states but while three states are cooperating, the teams in Kolkata and Jalpaiguri [in West Bengal], are not getting cooperation, and they are being stopped to visit and analyse the ground situation,” she said.

The Home Ministry, in an order issued on Sunday, had mentioned that the situation with respect to COVID-19 is “especially serious” in certain parts of Bengal like Kolkata, Howrah, East Midnapore, North 24 Parganas, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri and two teams will be sent to these areas to assess the situation. The teams were sent to “make an on the spot assessment of the situation, issue necessary directions to the state authorities” and submit their report to the Central government.

Comments are closed.