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Local trains to roll again after 50% rural public gets jab: CM Banerjee

Though the local trains are not running, many people are currently travelling in staff special trains.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
August 19, 2021 5:08:43 am
West bengal local trains mamata banerjee vaccine covidThe scheme, a pet project of the chief minister that she had promised ahead of the Assembly elections, is likely to benefit the ruling party in regions such as Jangalmahal and north Bengal, where a large section of the population travels a long distance to collect foodgrains from ration shops. (PTI)

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said local trains would be allowed to operate once half of the rural population is vaccinated against Covid-19. She said the government was deferring the restart of the trains because it was being cautious about a possible third wave of the pandemic.

“People in the villages are very much aware [of the situation]. We are emphasising increasing the vaccination rate in urban as well as rural areas. Gradually, we will allow local trains to run as soon as fifty per cent of people in villages get the antidote. Because there is a fear that children will be affected in the third wave. We are holding off on the launch of local trains in the interest of children. Because, when the parents return home in a crowded train, the children may also be affected by them,” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat after chairing an administrative meeting.

Though the local trains are not running, many people are currently travelling in staff special trains.

Meanwhile, Banerjee said her government would rename Mother Dairy, a milk and dairy products company run by the West Bengal Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation, “Bengal Dairy”. Another Mother Dairy firm is operated by the National Dairy Development Board, which is controlled by the Centre.

“We sell our milk produce under the Mother Dairy brand. The name will now be changed to Bangla Dairy; the chief secretary has been asked to take necessary steps in the matter. Bangla Dairy is related to Bengal. Under the humanitarian project, the state government will insist on increasing the production of eggs, fish and meat. The number of poultries in the state will also be increased,” Banerjee said.

Talking about the meeting, the chief minister said matters related to losses incurred because of the recent floods were discussed. She informed that a team of state ministers would visit Delhi to meet the Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, and the members of the Niti Ayog.

“We will place four demands before them — Ghatal master plan, master plans for the Sundarbans and Digha, places that suffer extensive suffering damage owing to cyclone, and improvement of various dams and reservoirs of the DVC [Damodar Valley Corporation], including Tenughat and Panchet,” she said.

Following the floods, Banerjee had blamed “unplanned” release of water from DVC dams for the “man-made floods”. Pointing out that the state government had taken up the Lower Damodar Basin project, worth Rs 3,000 crore, for water supply management, the chief minister said the ministerial team would also put forth its request for dredging the Ganga near Farakka Barrage in Murshidabad district.

Banerjee reiterated that the Centre had not given her administration any funds in the aftermath of cyclones Amphan, Fani, Yaas, and Bulbul. Contending that her government would not put up with any form of corruption, the Trinamool Congress chairperson said, “Anyone found involved in sand, coal or cattle smuggling will not be spared. The police have been asked to take strict action against those involved, whether it be an official or a political leader from outside. In Haldia, I know that BJP raises a lot of money.”

She maintained that the government would conduct an audit of “benami” accounts in cooperative banks. “The state government can hold audits and money found in any ‘benami’ accounts will be transferred to the government exchequer . Why will one particular person get to enjoy such money? It is the common people who should benefit from it,” Banerjee added.

(With PTI inputs)

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