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After Centre’s letter, Bengal assures cooperation to central teams visiting state

The development comes a day after the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla shot off a letter to Rajiv Sinha, the Chief Secretary, asking him to comply with the Union Home Ministry’s order on easing of restrictions in the state.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: April 22, 2020 11:40:35 am
India lockdown, Bengal lockdown, bengal coronavirus, centre bengal lockdown, coronavirus, mamata banerjee on india lockdown General Post Office (GPO) employees clean GPO area in Kolkata

Amid the tussle between the Centre and West Bengal over lockdown violations, the Mamata Banerjee government on Tuesday assured cooperation to the two Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCT) that landed in the state on Monday to assesses its handling of the COVID-19 situation.

The development comes a day after the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla shot off a letter to Rajiv Sinha, the Chief Secretary, asking him to comply with the Union Home Ministry’s order on easing of restrictions in the state.

On the Centre’s allegation of non-cooperation with the team, Sinha wrote, “It is not a fact that central teams have not been provided any cooperation by West Bengal govt. In fact, the teams arrived without any prior consultation with us and, therefore, there was neither such opportunity to provide any logistic support not the Team asked for any help.”

He also added that he is in touch with the teams, apprising them of the steps that the state has taken. The two teams will be visiting different parts of the city for assessment today, the letter further stated.

“This is to convey my highest assurances for the implementation of the orders of central government issued under the Disaster Management Act as well as the directions of the Honb’le Supreme Court,” the state chief secretary told the union home secretary.

Citing frequent lockdown violations in certain states, the Home Ministry had on Sunday said teams would be sent to the Opposition-ruled states of West Bengal, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, besides Madhya Pradesh. While the North Bengal team could not move out the entire day on Tuesday, the team in Kolkata stepped out in the morning only to be told by police to make a U-turn.

The home ministry on Tuesday alleged that the state government was not cooperating with the central team visiting West Bengal, which was in violation of the Disaster Management Act. In its letter, the MHA recalled that Supreme Court directions in the matter were on similar lines and asked West Bengal to provide all support to the IMCTs. The ruling TMC reacted angrily, saying while states were fighting the coronavirus, the Centre was fighting states.

The Mamata Banerjee-led TMC government has been at loggerheads with the Centre after it was pulled up for not adhering to the lockdown measures and allowing certain relaxations despite several reminders. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, too, had accused the state government of not following lockdown rules effectively.

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