Bengal told to stop violations by ‘specific groups’

Tuesday 12th May 2020 16:36 EDT

Kolkata: In a stern warning to West Bengal, the Centre asked the state chief secretary to ensure that lockdown measures were strictly implemented as its two teams had found “specific groups in specific localities” of Kolkata and Howrah violating the lockdown. Uncontrolled crowding of markets and free movement of people in large numbers, many playing cricket and football, were some of the instances pointed out in a communication to the state.

In a letter to West Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha, home secretary Ajay Bhalla said there was very little testing of people in the state in proportion to the population and a very high level of mortality at 13%, the highest for any state.

“Lockdown violations have been noted in the cities of Kolkata and Howrah by specific groups in specific localities with reports of corona warriors, including the police, being attacked in such localities,” Bhalla said. He asked the chief secretary to ensure stricter enforcement of the lockdown by enhancing police presence. Instances of problems faced due to ostracism of healthcare professional and lack of quarantine facilities were also worrying, Bhalla added.

The letter said central teams observed free movement of people in large numbers without masks, bathing in rivers and playing cricket and football in containment zones.

The Centre had deputed two Inter-ministerial Central teams (IMCTs) to Kolkata and Jalpaiguri districts since April 20. These teams extensively toured seven districts in the state. West Bengal has not furnished any data regarding the number of households and individuals contacted and surveyed for signs of Covid-19 symptoms so far. Also, testing facilities were lacking in hill districts of north Bengal, the home secretary said.

State home secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said ASHA workers had held a survey (April-May) on 60 million households to identify people having fever, cough and breathing distress. Trinamool secretary general and state education minister Partha Chatterjee said the Centre should come to the state’s aid and not just find fault with each and everything the state does.

Bengal discloses number of Covid-19 tests

Amidst several allegations from Centre of hiding data about coronavirus positive cases and deaths, West Bengal home secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay has disclosed the number of Covid-19 daily tests and laboratories of the state. Bandyopadhyay said that West Bengal conducts on an average 2,500 tests every day and the state has 15 laboratories among which 10 are government and five are private.

The statement came on a day after the mortality figures in Bengal alone rose by 72 in a day ie from 61 to 133 between Monday and Tuesday. While the rise in cases could also be attributed to the relaxations in the lockdown norms in green and orange zones, sources say that the case burden was also mainly due to the previously hidden data becoming public now.

According to officials, West Bengal continues to hide data about the number of coronavirus cases. West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar time and again alleged the Mamata Banerjee govt is concealing the actual number of death due to coronavirus. Dhankhar accused Banerjee of having "abjectly failed" in combating the crisis emanating from the coronavirus pandemic.

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