Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress party has accused the two Central teams visiting the state of West Bengal of spreading a “political virus” in the name of assessing the coronavirus containment efforts on the ground. This is the latest in the continuing war of words between the two sides.
“Inter-ministerial central teams (IMCTs) visiting Bengal to assess COVID19 situation served no purpose. Their real aim is to spread a political virus. They are doing it shamelessly,” PTI quoted a statement attributed to the TMC.
Earlier on Saturday, the central teams had alleged that they were not given access to facilities or officials in the state for the purpose of assessment and accused the state government of not supporting their endeavours despite an obligation to do so.
Team leader of Kolkata IMCT, Apurva Chandra, wrote to home secretary and the chief secretary of Bengal listing instances of non-cooperation which he said were proving to be an impediment in Covid containment efforts.
Chandra alleged that the state government was not providing them with the schedule of visits to hospitals, quarantine centres and containment zones despite repeated requests. He also said that the Bengal government was yet to provide essential information sought by the team that was important for assessing state’s response to the contagion.
“IMCT has been in Kolkata since 10 am on April 20. Four letters have been written by IMCT to the state government till today. No response has been received to any of the letters till date,” Chandra said in his letter on Saturday.
The central team has also taken an exception to alleged public statements given by West Bengal chief secretary suggesting cooperation with IMCT amounted to a “waste of time” for the state officials.
The central team visiting states is supposed to be provided with logistics support and facilitate field visits, as per a home ministry directive.
The central team has also expressed concern over the absence of police escorts while they are on the field.
According to an official, who didn’t wish to be named, the “North Bengal IMCT had gone to Kalimpong on Saturday morning on their own after informing the chief secretary by message. They returned without visiting the hospital or meeting the district magistrate or chief medical officer as they refused to meet the team”.
The confrontation between the two sides escalated after the IMCT pointed out several gaps in covid management protocols observed during the visits to a couple of state-run designated hospitals.
Five days waiting time for test results for patients in isolation wards; bodies kept lying on hospital beds for hours before they are moved to mortuaries and lack of social distancing at the hospitals were some of the issues raised.