West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday announced a committee, comprising representatives from all political parties, to look into Cyclone Amphan relief work amid allegations of corruption and mismanagement. She also announced to extend the ongoing lockdown to curb the spread of novel coronavirus in the state to July 31 with the existing relaxation norms.
The two announcements were made by the Chief Minister after she presided over an all-party meeting here.
The decision to form an all-party committee came after the Opposition launched a scathing attack on the TMC government over allegations of corruption in the ongoing Amphan relief operation and the handling of Covid-19 situation.
Facing the Opposition’s flak, the TMC reportedly went on the backfoot and admitted to some cases of allegations of corruption at the grassroots level, sources said.
The panel was formed with the objective of keeping a tab on the relief distribution operation. The committee will include TMC’s Partha Chatterjee, CPM’s Sujan Chakraborty, BJP’s Dilip Ghosh, Congress’ Pradip Bhattacharya, Forward Block’s Hafiz Ali Sairani, CPI’s Swapan Banerjee and RSP’s Monoj Chakraborty.
During the meeting, Banerjee also warned that strict action would be taken against those involved in corruption and misappropriation of Amphan relief funds.
The CM said, “In distribution of relief materials, any kind of corruption or politicisation will not be tolerated. We have agreed to the Opposition demand, and have already directed the administration to publish the list of beneficiaries, who have received relief materials, in front of the offices of BDOs, SDOs or District Magistrate. We have given the officials seven-day time to carry out the instructions.”
She added, “I have also instructed the administration to immediately include the names of those who are genuinely deprived. We have no problem if the number of names in the list increases.”
As the Opposition parties, including CPM, BJP and Congress, raised allegations of corruption against the ruling party at the block-level, the CM said, “We will not allow any kind of corruption. We have already expelled four party leaders at the panchayat-level following graft allegations. People from all parties should know that during this hour of severe crisis, we have to save people and engage in social work. People have elected us and so, we have to serve them.”
After the meeting, Medinipur MP and state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said, “We have raised our issues of corruption that is taking place at different levels. The government has heard our allegations. Now, our next course of action will depend on what steps the government takes.”
CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty also echoed Ghosh. “The state government has admitted to a few cases of corruption, not all. However, it is a positive outcome that the government has confessed to some extent.”
Congress Leader Pradip Bhattacharya said the CM heard all the charges of corruption levelled against the state government. “But the question remains as to what steps it will take to accept the real situation and address the problem of corruption.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines