WB govt not providing logistical support, relevant info on Covid-19: Central team
The central team also asked the Bengal government to furnish the details of all those Tablighi Jamaat returnees, who are either in quarantine or underwent tests for Covid-19 so far.Updated: Apr 25, 2020 18:55 IST
The Centre and West Bengal government continue to lock horns over the visit of two inter-ministerial central teams (IMCTs) to the state to assess the on-ground response regarding coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak. The members of IMCTs have complained that they were not getting any support from the Bengal government, including access to the hospitals that are treating Covid-19 patients and state authorities’ refusal to even accompany them.
Apurva Chandra, who heads the IMCT to Kolkata, wrote to Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha on Saturday, listing the grievances against the state government officials. Chandra has alleged that the state government officials refused to cooperate with the Central team regarding drawing up itineraries to visit the hospitals, quarantine centres and containment centres and only got a 30-minute notice in advance to perform their assigned tasks.
Chandra also cited Sinha’s statements in the press that the IMCT teams were free to visit anywhere in the state and that “senior officers of the state government cannot waste their time accompanying them”. This, Chandra pointed out, was a violation of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) order, as the Bengal government is expected to provide logistical support and also facilitate the field visits of IMCTs. Besides seeking escorted visits to Covid-19 hospitals, the Central teams also asked for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits from the state government, which were reportedly denied.
Bengal is also yet to provide any further details on other critical aspects such as the supply of essential commodities, the condition of relief camps, the enforcement of ongoing nationwide lockdown restriction, which was initially enforced on March 25 for 21 days and then further extended for another 19 days till May 3 to contain the spread of Covid-19 outbreak, measures.
“The IMCT has been in Kolkata since 10 am on April 20. Four letters have been written by the IMCT to the state government till Saturday. No response has been received to any of the letters to date,” Chandra said in his letter to Bhalla.
Chandra asked the Bengal government if the state took responsibility for their safety and security in the absence of police escort and if Border Security Force personnel were permitted to take any action to ensure their safety in case of any untoward incident.
The other IMCT, which headed to north Bengal, also allegedly faced similar challenges.
“The IMCT members visited Kalimpong on Saturday morning on their own after informing the chief secretary. Unfortunately, they returned from Kalimpong without visiting the Covid-19 hospital there. Neither did they meet the Kalimpong district magistrate nor the district chief medical officer, as they were refused permission,” said a Central government official, requesting anonymity.
Earlier, during a visit to two hospitals in Kolkata, the IMCT members had found several anomalies such as waiting time of five days or more for test results of suspected Covid-19 patients who were undergoing treatment in isolation wards; bodies of patients lying on beds in a ward for four hours as the death certificates were not yet ready and disregard to social distancing norms.
The central team also asked the Bengal government to furnish the details of all those Tablighi Jamaat returnees, who are either in quarantine or underwent tests for Covid-19 so far. The Jamaat members proved to be a Covid-19 superspreader across the country after attending the Islamic sect’s international congregation at Nizamuddin in New Delhi between March 13 and 15.