The Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government on Monday transferred the principal secretary of the state’s Health and Family Welfare Department amid a tussle with the Centre over the coronavirus crisis, reported PTI.
“The Governor is pleased to appoint Shri Vivek Kumar...posted as Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department as Principal Secretary Environment Department vice Shri Prabhat Kr. Mishra...until further order,” the state government’s order read.
Narayan Swaroop Nigam will take over as the new health secretary from Tuesday. He had served as the state’s transport secretary before this.
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The reshuffle came at a time when the state and the central government have been engaged in a political tussle over data on the coronavirus cases. On May 6, the Centre rebuked the state over its low Covid-19 testing figures, high mortality rate and numerous instances of violation of lockdown guidelines.
The Union home ministry official’s stern letter came after two Inter-Ministerial Central Teams, sent to review the situation in Kolkata and Jalpaiguri, submitted their reports. One of the teams flagged that the state had the highest mortality rate in the country, which was a “clear indication of low testing, weak surveillance and tracking”.
The team also highlighted a discrepancy in the number of Covid-19 cases reported by the West Bengal Health Department in medical bulletins and in its communication with the Centre. However, the Trinamool Congress-led state government has refuted the allegations.
According to the Union health ministry’s Tuesday morning update, West Bengal has recorded 2,063 infections and 499 recoveries. The toll in the state is 190.