West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday (April 20) sought to know the rationale behind the formation of six Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) to assess the enforcement of lockdown norms in states and violations.
She urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to share criteria for the assessment, without which her government “would not be able to move ahead”.
“We welcome all constructive support & suggestions, especially from the Central Govt in negating the #Covid19 crisis. However, the basis on which Centre is proposing to deploy IMCTs in select districts across India including few in WB under Disaster Mgmt Act 2005 is unclear,” Banerjee tweeted.
“I urge both Hon’ble Prime Minister @NarendraModi Ji & Home Minister @AmitShah Ji to share the criterion used for this. Until then I am afraid, we would not be able to move ahead on this as without valid reasons this might not be consistent with the spirit of federalism,” she added.
I urge both Honb’le Prime Minister @NarendraModi Ji & Home Minister @AmitShah Ji to share the criterion used for this. Until then I am afraid, we would not be able to move ahead on this as without valid reasons this might not be consistent with the spirit of federalism. (2/2)
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) April 20, 2020
The Centre has constituted six IMCTs for on-spot assessment of the COVID-19 situation in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. “The IMCTs will focus on compliance and implementation of the lockdown measures as per guidelines, supply of essential commodities, social distancing, preparedness of health infrastructure, safety of health professionals and conditions of relief camps for labourers and poor people,” a home ministry spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, expressing disapproval over the manner of the Centre’s intervention, Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha said to NDTV, “We were told, not asked, about the visit of the Central teams. Two teams landed within 15 minutes of us being informed about their visits. One team landed in Jalpaiguri, another in Kolkata.”
“They are behaving as if we are hiding something. We will not let them roam around in the state. The way they have come and gone to the field with the BSF, we cannot accept this. We have said come and talk to us then decide if you need to go into the field,” NDTV quoted Sinha as saying.
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The chief secretary added that he would be meeting the teams later in the day and brief them.
The Centre had recently expressed concern regarding the “gradual dilution” of lockdown norms in West Bengal. Sweet shops were allowed to be opened for four hour a day initally, and were then allowed to extend their working hours to eight. The working hours were later changed back to four per day.
A report by the ministry of home affairs had also mentioned that religious congregations were allegedly being allowed, markets have reopened and are crowded, and people have been gathering in large crowds at ration shops, where politicians are distributing rations.
Following this report, the West Bengal Chief Minister did take action, deploying police personnel to ensure that people did not crowd at marketplaces, and to make sure that religious congregations did not take place. However, a couple of events reportedly took place despite the ban, which the police had to disperse.
(With inputs from agencies)