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West Bengal transfers health secretary amid row over COVID-19 numbers

Vivek Kumar's transfer to the Environment Department as secretary comes days after a row over the state's COVID-19 data.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: May 12, 2020 7:48:24 pm
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The West Bengal government has transferred Health Secretary Vivek Kumar to the Environment Department. Narayan Swaroop Nigam, who was the Transport Secretary, has been named as his replacement, as per a notification dated May 11.

The government notification said that Kumar will take charge as Principal Secretary of the State’s Environment Department. “This is issued in the interest of public service,” the notification further read.

Kumar’s transfer to the Environment Department as secretary comes days after a row over the state’s COVID-19 data.

The Centre has criticised West Bengal several times on its Covid-19 management, including its level of testing and its mortality rate, which at 13.2% is the highest in the country. The Inter-Ministerial Central Team that visited Kolkata, Howrah, and certain other districts in West Bengal, to check its coronavirus preparation, has accused it of low testing, weak surveillance, and discrepancies in reporting cases.

In a meeting with the prime minister on Sunday, Mamata Banerjee accused the Centre of “playing politics and ignoring the states.” She took on the PM, Home Minister Amit Shah as well as Central government officials, questioning their actions in the midst of a pandemic. She was among the CMs who opposed the Centre’s plan to dilute the lockdown and start the train service.

West Bengal has so far reported 118 deaths due to coronavirus infection. The state has attributed 72 other deaths to comorbidities — cases where COVID-19 was incidental. The state has reported 1,939 COVID-19 cases till Monday and of them, 1,374 are active.

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