West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday that all places of worship in the state will be open from June 1, NDTV reported. The fourth phase of the countrywide lockdown imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus will end on May 31.
“Temples, mosques, gurdwaras, churches, all will open, but not more than 10 people will be allowed, there will be no assembly at religious places,” Banerjee said in a virtual press conference. “This will be implemented from June 1.”
All government and private offices can open from June 1 with full strength, the chief minister said, adding that the tea and jute industry will also begin to function from that date.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday spoke to the chief ministers of all the states and asked for their opinions on the continuation of the nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus.
Banerjee attacked the central government, claiming that the “Shramik Special” trains which were arriving in West Bengal had been “stuffed full of people, with no social distancing”. “What are they trying to do?” she asked. “Are they running Shramik trains or are they trying to run Corona Express?”
Banerjee said the railway ministry could easily increase the number of coaches in the special trains to prevent crowding. “I was rail minister,” she said. “I know we have enough rakes. They can easily make the trains longer and stop crowding the trains full of people for 48 hours with no water and no food.”
The chief minister also claimed that West Bengal had been able to control the Covid-19 outbreak for two months. “Cases are increasing now as people are coming from outside,” she alleged. On Thursday, Banerjee said that migrants returning from five states – Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh – will be put under mandatory institutional quarantine.
The West Bengal government has been at loggerheads with the railway ministry over its handling of special trains for migrant workers returning to their homes. On May 27, she accused the ministry of sending special trains full of migrant workers to the state without prior intimation.
Banerjee claimed the railway ministry suddenly told West Bengal on May 26 that 36 trains from Maharashtra would be leaving for the state. She alleged that even the Maharashtra government had no inkling of this before the announcement was made.
On May 14, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal lashed out at the West Bengal government. He claimed that while there was a need to operate 105 trains per day to the state, the Banerjee-led government was allowing just 105 trains a month to enter.
West Bengal has so far reported 4,536 cases of Covid-19, including 295 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.