West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
Photo: ANI

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Chief Ministers of various states concluded on Saturday an extension of the country wide lockdown till the 30th of April seemed inevitable. After Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s tweet, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too indicated the same while speaking to reporters at Nabanna, the state secretariat.

“The Prime Minister has said that the lockdown will be extended till the 30th of April and we too shall abide by it,” said Mamata Banerjee who later also said that this is not the time for politics. The Mamata government did however communicate to the Centre about the pending devolution funds of Rs. 11,213 and GST funds of Rs. 2,300,93 crore which West Bengal is yet to receive.

The West Bengal Chief Minister also said that there should be a Rs. 10 lakh crore health package for states while citing example of Japan, UK and America which she said were spending 15% of the GDP compared to India which is spending less than 1% of the GDP.

During the lockdown, small industries can function if workers do not step outside and protocols like social distancing should be followed. Partial working in tea gardens has already begun, she said.

Mamata said that violation of protocols will result in necessary action. Flour mills, drinking water, fisheries and bakeries too will re-open while also maintaining protocols on sanitization.

With news on specific hotspots in the state doing the rounds, Mamata clarified.

“We have not spoken about specific areas (as hotspots). There are sensitive spots however which we have secretly identified and are working in it locally,” said Mamata as she went on to term it rather as a mirco planning initiative. Just because one COVID-19 case is found, does not mean the entire area or markets will be sealed, she added. The Chief Minister specified that such areas will be sanitized well in such cases.

Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim will undertake the santization in such areas.

Mamata also said that the state secretariat Nabanna will be shut for the next two days for sanitization purposes. She also mentioned that schools and colleges in the state will be closed till the 10th of June which includes the backlog of the summer holidays. This will also help to sanitize campuses.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Home Affairs sent a letter to the Chief Secretary and the state's Director General of Police regarding the violation of lockdown measures in certain areas in the city. “As per further reports received from security agencies, gradual dilution of lock down has been reported from West Bengal’ states the letter.

The areas named in the letter are Rajabazar, Narkeldanga, Topsia, Metiaburz , Gardenreach, Ikbalpur and Maniktala .

When asked Banerjee told reporters “Centre has just asked to keep a vigilance on certain areas. You know who Delhi is particularly asking us to keep a notice on...but we are not fighting communal virus but a human disease”.

Currently, the number of cases in West Bengal stand at 95 with 6 new cases in the last 24 hours. 70 of the cases were transmitted within families said Mamata. More than 3000 families have been tested so far.

“There are only two labs here. How many people can get tested? ICMR says if there are no symptoms, there should be no testing. We followed those guidelines. Now they say test more,” said Mamata who mentioned that the state has asked for testing kits from the Centre.

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