COVID-19: Lack of clarity & contradiction in Centre’s restrictions & relaxations, says Bengal CM

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said that there is lack of clarity in the Centre’s imposition of restrictions and the way some relaxations were being offered.

“On the one hand, they are saying shops can be kept open, and on the other hand, they are saying impose strict lockdown. If we keep shops open, we can’t ask people to not go there,” she said. Banerjee said that the chief secretary had been asked to seek clarification on this from the cabinet secretary.

Banerjee attended a meeting over videoconference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier in the day. She said that the Centre should consult states before issuing circulars on various matters. She alleged that while the Centre is asking for a stricter implementation of lockdown, it is allowing the shops to open which is causing crowding in public places.

She added that the Centre should deposit Rs.10,000 in the bank accounts of unorganised sector workers as people were suffering due to lack of work. She also suggested the Centre to increase the number of work days to 150 for those employed under its 100-days work scheme. The Centre should make plans for the poor, she said. Banerjee alleged that the Centre is wasting funds behind expensive projects, but is not helping the states with funds required to fight COVID-19.

The state has made reforms to save money and utilise funds for the poor, but the state’s earnings have been badly affected due to the lockdown restrictions, she said. The Centre has made a salary cut for MPs, cut dearness allowance increase for Central government employees among other things. But the state has not taken similar measures, she said. “How are we going to get funds to fight the pandemic?” Banerjee asked, making clear her displeasure with the Centre’s lack of financial support in the face of the crisis.

She said Central government teams had been sent to Bengal and they were holding meetings with top officials – like the chief secretary, home secretary, health secretary, district magistrates and police superintendents. “Will these officials work to fight the pandemic or will they appear for meetings with Central team officials?” she asked.

Meanwhile, the Bengal government has allowed from now home delivery of non-essential goods. Delivery of essential goods was allowed earlier as well. Relaxations will be allowed in those areas which haven’t reported any COVID-19 cases in past 21 days. The relaxations may be allowed or withdrawn depending on the COVID-19 situation in a place.

A cabinet committee was announced by Banerjee today for COVID-19 management. It will fight the COVID-19 situation in Bengal while rest of the administration will handle other matters of governance in the state.

Comments are closed.