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Centre unhappy with lockdown violations in Bengal

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on April 11, 2020

Keep the faith: Apart from Bela Bose, other songs were put to good use by the men-in-white crooners in different parts of Kolkata   -  IMAGE COURTESY: KOLKATA POLICE

Bengal government extends lockdown till April 30

The Centre has written to the West Bengal government expressing strong displeasure in relaxing lockdown measures, be it in select areas or in case of non-essential items.

Religious congregations have also apparently been allowed and free ration is being distributed, reportedly through political leaders, instead of the institutional delivery mechanism. This “may have” resulted in “spread of Covid-19, the letter further said.

According to the Union Home Ministry’s letter number 11034/01/2020-IS-IV, “gradual dilution of lockdown” has been reported from the State. This refers to he relaxation provided to open up sweetmeat shops across Bengal even though for a four-hour-window.

Problem areas in Kolkata

There is also a mention of about no regulations being followed in markets and in select areas of Kolkata. Vegetable, fish and meat markets have “no regulation” and people are “thronging in complete violation of social distancing norms”.

The letter points out to areas like Rajabazaar, Narkeldanga, Manicktala, Garden Reach, Metiabruz, Topsia and Ikbalpur as some of the places in the city where there is no social distancing. Manicktala houses one of the largest fish markets of the city.

It specifically mentions Narkeldanga as an area which is “reportedly witnessing more Covid-19 like cases”.

Violations

The activities are a violation of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and “are liable for penal action”, said the letter.

The ministry has accordingly “requested that strict action” be taken and a report be furnished urgently. It has also instructed that “measures be taken to prevent recurrence of such instances”.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the “letter asks the State to look into specific areas only”. “You know how they have their eyes set on particular localities and communities. However, let me remind all of you, we are fighting the coronavirus, not a communal virus,” she said.

The Chief Minister has apparently ordered the police to “spread our local and wholesale markets” and ensure social distancing is enforced there. Shops will remain open between 10 am and 6 pm.

Lockdown extended

Banerjee further added that in line with the PM’s decision, the lockdown in the State will be extended till April 30. “We (all CMs) have agreed to extend the lockdown for another two weeks. I support the PM’s decision to extend lockdown nationally. He is likely to make an announcement soon. In Bengal the lockdown will be extended till April 30,” she said.

The State, on its part, has also allowed certain relaxations. Harvesting is expected to begin soon. But, social distancing will have to be maintained.

A mobile app will also be launched that will allow government tp procure food-grains directly from farmers’ doorsteps.

Meanwhile, the State reported six new cases of Covid-19 over the last 24 hours thereby taking the total affected to 95. No new deaths have been reported.

Published on April 11, 2020

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