West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clear the state’s dues from the Central government as the state was having a tough time to fight the COVID-19 pandemic situation and aftermath of Amphan.

Banerjee appealed to the PM during the inauguration of three new high-throughput laboratories of the Indian Medical Research Council (ICMR) in Kolkata, Mumbai and Noida through videoconference. Chief ministers of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray and Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath were also present during the videoconference.

Banerjee requested PM Modi to release Rs 53,000 crore that is due to West Bengal. She said that Bengal got Rs 1,000 crore as relief for work for cyclone Amphan. Earlier, Banerjee has on many occasions, said that the state government requires a lot more – over Rs 1 lakh crore – for repair and rehabilitation work for Amphan and that the Central government owes Rs 53,000 crore to the state for various social security schemes. As such, the state government is shouldering a huge burden for rehabilitation work of Amphan and to fight COVID-19, she has been saying.

During the videoconference on Monday, Banerjee also raised the issue of the Centre asking the state to use funds meant for natural disasters (from the State Disaster Response Fund) to fight COVID-19. “If we do that, how are we going to manage to fight any ensuing natural disaster like flood in the coming days? Floods are common in Bengal, Bihar, Assam around this time,” she said.

Banerjee said that West Bengal is currently conducting about 16,000 COVID-19 tests per day and plans to increase the number to 25,000 tests per day by mid-August.

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