Questioning the Centre’s decision to send Inter-ministerial central teams (IMCT) to several districts of West Bengal to assess lockdown violations, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the basis of the move was “unclear” and sought to know its criterion from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. Failing which, the CM added, it would be “difficult to move ahead… as it might not be consistent with the spirit of federalism”.
I urge both Honb’le Prime Minister @NarendraModi Ji & Home Minister @AmitShah Ji to share the criterion used for this. Until then I am afraid, we would not be able to move ahead on this as without valid reasons this might not be consistent with the spirit of federalism. (2/2)
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) April 20, 2020
Two IMCTs have already arrived in Kolkata, of which one first went to NICED and thereafter to Howrah and Belgachhia in the city.
According to the Centre, some districts in West Bengal are in red zone and orange zone, where the Covid-19 situation is “especially serious”, and where the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to send central teams comprising officers and doctors who are specialists in public health.
A top official of the state government said, “We are abiding by all the orders of the central government and maintaining continuous liasion with them. Even after that, this act (of sending IMCTs) is basically interference in the federal structure of the state.”
The MHA order states, “In some of the districts of the country, a number of violations to the lockdown measures have been reported posing a serious health hazard and risk for spread of COVID-19 which is against general interest of public.”
The order mentioned the nature of the violations thus: incidents of violence on frontline healthcare professionals, complete violations of social distancing norms outside banks, PDS shops etc, and in market places, movement of private and commercial vehicles with passengers in urban vehicles and so on.
The order said, “If they are allowed to occur without any restraining measures in hotspot districts or emerging hotspots, with large outbreaks or clusters, pose a serious health hazard, both for the populations of these districts and for that living in oyher areas of the country. After analyzing prevalence of violations in major hotspot districts, it is clear to the central government that the situation is especially serious in Kolkata, Howrah, Midnapore East, North 24 Parganas, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri districts in the state of West Bengal.”
The IMCTs will make on-the-spot assessment of the situation, issue necessary directions to the state authorities for redressal of the situation and submit their report to the Centre.
Kolkata, Howrah, North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore will be visited by a five-member central team under the leadership of Apurba Chandra, Additional Secretary, Department of Defence. On the other hand, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Kalimpong will be visited by another five-member team under the leadership of Vineet Joshi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development.
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