West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced the easing of a number of restrictions, including the reopening of all places of worship, starting from June 1 and said the state government’s workforce capacity would be increased from 50 per cent to 70 per cent to ensure public services continue “uninterrupted and unhindered”.
The announcements came a day after a record single-day jump in Covid-19 cases in the state. Banerjee blamed the Railways for undoing her government’s success in “controlling the spread of Covid-19 in the last two months” by sending trains packed with migrant labourers to the state without consulting her government.
She alleged that social distancing norms were not being ensured in the trains, and asked the Railways if it was running “corona express trains instead of Shramik Special trains”.
“I have come to know that the Railways is sending trains, jam-packed, with migrant labourers. In one seat, three-four persons are travelling for 48 hours, 72 hours. So I thought then what is the harm in opening up religious places. From June 1, religious sites and places can open up in Bengal. But there will be no major congregation or celebration of any festival,” Banerjee said, adding that more than 10 people will not be allowed at the shrines. The religious places will be sanitised for the next three days.
Continuing her tirade against the Railways, Banerjee — a former Union Railways Minister — said the number of bogies could be increased to accommodate more migrants safely. She wondered why more special trains were not being operated.
“They (migrants) are coming from hotspot areas. No proper planning has been made. So, the disease has spread,” she said.
Banerjee said public and private offices would be allowed to function at full strength from June 8. However, schools will continue to remain closed till at least the end of next month as many are being used as quarantine centres for migrants returning home.
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