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MHA directs West Bengal not to obstruct working of central teams assessing lockdown measure

Home Ministry Joint Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava also raised the issue at the daily media briefing on the COVID-19 situation in the country.

Published: 21st April 2020 08:08 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd April 2020 08:38 AM   |  A+A-

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Photo | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Union Home Ministry on Tuesday said that the West Bengal government is obstructing the implementation of its order by refusing to cooperate with the two inter-ministerial central teams sent by it to assess the implementation of the lockdown in seven districts of the state.

Stating that the state authorities were specifically restraining the teams from visiting the affected areas and interacting with health workers, the ministry directed state authorities to comply with its order. The letter by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla to West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiv Sinha stated that the central teams, visiting Kolkata and Jalpaiguri, have not been provided with the requisite cooperation by the state and local authorities.

The ministry of home affairs said that the refusal to assist the teams “amounts to obstructing the implementation of the orders issued by the Central Government under the Disaster Management, 2005, and equally binding directions of the Supreme Court”.

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“You are, therefore, directed to comply with the MHA order dated April 19, 2020, and make all necessary arrangements for the IMCTs to carry out such responsibilities,” the home secretary wrote.  The two teams are led by additional secretary-level officers and comprise senior public health professionals and NDMA officers, “whose expertise can be leveraged by the state government,” said the home secretary.

Besides Bengal, the ministry had also dispatched two teams to Maharashtra, one each to Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to review the implementation of the lockdown and for making an on-spot assessment of the situation prevailing in selected districts where it had found “large scale violations.” Referring to MHA’s allegation, Sinha said the state will provide data and information to the central teams but the state government’s officials have no time to accompany them.

“We are not going to learn from the team how to implement lockdown... The team met me on Monday and I also went to the BSF’s guest house where they are staying on Tuesday. I told health department will help. We are busy working round-the-clock and it is not possible to accompany them,’’ said Sinha.

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