The West Bengal government on Wednesday said that it will fully cooperate with the Inter-ministerial central teams sent by the Centre to review the Covid-19 situation in the state, ANI reported. On Tuesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs had directed the state government to allow the two inter-ministerial central teams, or IMCTs, to carry out their duties after the team leaders alleged that that the ruling Trinamool Congress was not providing them access to some districts.
In a letter to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha denied that the state government was not cooperating with the Centre’s teams. Sinha said that he had held two meetings with one team and was in touch with the other. “IMCT [Inter-ministerial central teams] had arrived without any prior consultation with us and, therefore, there was neither such opportunity to provide any logistic support nor the team asked for any help,” Sinha wrote in his letter.
“The ICMT [Inter-ministerial central team] in Kolkata led by Mr Apurva Chandra met me in my office on April 20 and had an interaction about the implementation of lockdown measures and other efforts of the state government to contain and combat Covid-19,” Sinha added. “I am also in touch with Mr Vineet Joshi of ICMT at Siliguri and have apprised him about the steps taken by the state government along with the share of the reports on mail.”
Sinha concluded his letter by saying, “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 [Honourable] Supreme Court.”
The visit of the ICMT teams to West Bengal had been criticised by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the leaders of her party. Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien on Tuesday repeated Banerjee’s claim that the state was not informed in advance about the visit of the teams. He labelled the visit as “adventure tourism” and wondered why teams were not sent to states with a much higher number of cases and hotspots.
On Monday, the home ministry sent six teams led by senior bureaucrats to West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra to ensure that the lockdown measures are implemented strictly by their governments. The ministry spokesperson had said that the situation was “especially serious” in Indore, Jaipur, Mumbai and Pune. The Centre said that the Covid-19 situation in West Bengal’s, Kolkata, Howrah, Medinipur East, 24 Parganas North, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri districts was also serious.
West Bengal has 423 cases of the coronavirus, according to the Union health ministry. Fifteen people have died of Covid-19 in the state. India’s Covid-19 tally has gone up to 19,984 with a toll of 640.