Lack of data makes Bengal lone state which didn’t appear in Ease of Living index
- Launched in 2018, the ranking has assumed importance over the years in shaping government policies and determining expenditure priorities. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been emphasizing the ease of living along with the ease of doing business as a key policy priority.
West Bengal is the only state in India that did not appear in the Ease of Living Index 2020 prepared by the ministry of housing and urban affairs as no data was shared by the Mamata Banerjee-led administration.
“The index aimed to cover a total of 114 cities across India. However, the cities from West Bengal could not be incorporated due to data challenges,” the report stated.
A total of 111 cities participated in the assessment exercise that was conducted in 2020.
Even though this year’s report at least mentions the name of West Bengal while claiming that there was no data from the state and the report only carries a picture of a metro railway track, the previous reports of 2018 and 2019 didn’t even mention the name of Kolkata or West Bengal. No data was shared in 2018 and 2019 either.
Among Indian cities with a population of over a million, the ease of living is the highest in Bengaluru, Pune and Ahmedabad. It was found to be the lowest in Bareilly, Dhanbad and Srinagar. Shimla topped the category of cities with a population of less than million.
Launched in 2018, the ranking has assumed importance over the years in shaping government policies and determining expenditure priorities. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been emphasizing the ease of living along with the ease of doing business as a key policy priority.
Calls to both the state urban development minister Firhad Hakim and the state urban development secretary Khalil Ahmed went unanswered. They didn’t respond to messages either.
“This is not a path breaking or important survey. Hence the name of West Bengal not appearing in the survey is not a serious matter. The government may not have the time to send data,” said Saugata Roy, TMC MP.
This is, however, not the first time that the name of West Bengal has surfaced for not sharing data with the Centre. The National Crime Record Bureau report released on September 30, 2020 said that West Bengal did not send the data to NCRB within the deadline.
“Due to non-receipt of data from the state of West Bengal and Kolkata city in time for the year 2019, data furnished for the year 2018 has been used to arrive at national and city-wise figures,” the NCRB report had said.
While a tussle has been going on between the BJP–led Union government and TMC-led state government, Union ministers, including Amit Shah, had on several occasions during election campaign attacked the TMC-led government in the state for not sharing data of farmers for the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi which would have allowed farmers in West Bengal to receive financial aid from the Centre.
The TMC had, however, brushed aside the allegations saying that the Centre was not sending the names of farmers as a result of which data could not be shared.
“We are fortunate that the TMC hasn’t claimed so far that West Bengal tops the list of ease of living. I am sure that with elections approaching they will do it any day, claiming that ease of living is highest in West Bengal. The Mamata Banerjee administration didn’t send any data to NCRB because it knew that law and order has deteriorated, and violence has shot up. It hasn’t sent any data to for ease of living index because the state government knows that it would come last,” said Samik Bhattacharya, BJP spokesperson.
Earlier in May 2020, an inter-ministerial central team (IMCT) sent to assess West Bengal’s response to Covid-19 had alleged discrepancies in the data provided by the state, pointed to its high mortality rate, and questioned the state government’s claim of having surveyed five million people.