Mamata sets up three new task force to deal with lockdown, economic issues

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on April 08, 2020 Published on April 08, 2020

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee   -  PTI

The West Bengal government has set up three task forces to look into different aspects, including economic issues arising during and post the coronavirus-induced lockdown period.

The task force will cover issues like “restoration and relaxation” (of lockdown), looking into economic aspects and the final one will plan “enforcement” of orders and suggestions. These will be headed by the Chief Secretary, a senior bureaucrat from the Finance Department, and the third, by the Home Secretary.

“The task force will have their respective mandates and will work accordingly,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters.

Interestingly, the Ministry of Home Affairs, on Wednesday, wrote to States asking them to invoke the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 so that essential goods continue to be made available during the lockdown.

“There have been reports of loss of production due to various factors, especially reduction in labour supply. In this situation, there is a possibility of inventory building/hoarding and black marketing, profiteering, and speculative trading, resulting in price rise of essential goods. The States have been asked to take urgent steps to ensure availability of these commodities at fair prices for public at large,” it said.

The Chief Minister refused to comment about extending the lockdown period beyond April. “I cannot make any comments with out talking to the Prime Minister. Any decision to extend the lockdown has to be taken by the Centre and needs to be looked at in a humane manner,” she said.

As on Wednesday, West Bengal had 71 active Covid-19 positive cases, an addition of two cases over the last 24 hours. Deaths remain at 5. Of the total active cases, 61 are from 11 families.

Tablighi event

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister told media personnel that 177 people have been “identified” with relation to the Tablighi Jamaat event held in Delhi in March this year. All of them have been quarantined.

Of these 177, there are at 108 foreign nationals from Thailand, Indonesia and Mayanmar.

This comes a day after she “refused to take questions” on the attendees at the religious event. Her comments had led to widespread anger and a war-of-words with the state BJP unit.

“Some issues are beyond our control. And we work in tandem with the Centre on things like arrival and departure of foreign nationals. We have been tracking people with Tablighi links for almost two weeks now, after the Centre alerted us about it,” she said, adding that “there was no need to communalise the issue”.

Published on April 08, 2020

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