The Mamata Banerjee government is setting new highs insofar opacity is concerned during the ongoing Pandemic. As per latest reports, the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) sent to West Bengal couldn’t visit the COVID-19 high-risk zones as the Mamata Banerjee administration seems to have taken the team on a guided tour of the state.
Apurva Chandra, heading the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) has said,
“We have been seeking support from the West Bengal government for our visit. We have been informed there were some issues and we won’t be going out on Tuesday.” The team, however, held a meeting with the Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha later as the state government seemed to ensure that the visiting Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) went to handpicked areas in West Bengal.
Chandra also said, “We have been deployed by the Central government and our order of deployment also says that we will get logistics support from the state government. It is a wide ranging team with representatives from NDMA, public health representatives and representatives from other departments.”
But the West Bengal government has not been co-operating with the IMCT and according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the IMCTs are working properly in all states except West Bengal.
Mamata Banerjee government has not allowed the Central team to visit COVID-19 hotspots in the state, not have they been allowed to converse with the health workers.
Chandra added, “I have been in touch with the Chief Secretary after I landed yesterday and met him last evening. We were supposed to go out today. Today we were told that we will not be going out as there are some issues and we will be moving around with state government liaison office and only then it will be effective.”
Why should the Mamata Banerjee government insist on moving around only with the state government liaison office? The fact remains that the Mamata Banerjee government has been facing severe criticism over the alleged cover-up of the gravity of COVID-19 situation in the state.
Presently, everything in the state reeks of an attempt to hush up the severity of the virus: reports of a doctor getting nabbed for flagging the issue of poor quality PPEs, a Committee of Doctors to decide whether a COVID-19 patient died of Coronavirus or “co-morbidities” and burial of a dead body under suspicious circumstances by people wearing PPEs.
Amidst all such reports, the ICMR too has accused the Mamata Banerjee government of not conducting enough Coronavirus tests.
ICMR and Mamata Banerjee government have been trading barbs over such allegations.
In this context, even more suspicious reports have started coming in from the state. Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Asansol MP Babul Supriyo shared a video on his Twitter handle.
1/2: This is a shocking video that has emerged frm alleged M.R.Bangur Hospital,Tollygunje, WB•It is shocking in every sense of the term•Since this VDO is in the Public Domain, I wud request Honble WBCM @MamataOfficial to conduct a thorough enquiry into it&release the FACTs asap pic.twitter.com/d1Ps5Jb3ar
— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) April 20, 2020
The video, claimed to have been recorded at M.R. Bangur Hospital, Tollygunje in West Bengal, demonstrates pathetic conditions in which suspected COVID-19 patients have been lodged. At one point in the video, the person recording it points at a dead body in the hospital which he alleges has been lying unattended for over 2-3 hours.
The video is highly disturbing and if the suspected Coronavirus patients have been made to reside along with dead bodies, then it is surely a prolific situation for a major public health crisis. It is a highly deplorable practice to keep dead bodies unattended in a hospital and that too in times like this.
Meanwhile, the Mamata Banerjee government has once again picked up a confrontation with the Centre. While other states, including the Congress-ruled state of Rajasthan, have been cooperating with the Centre, Mamata Banerjee got involved in a showdown with the Modi government yet again.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Modi, Mamata Banerjee has reportedly stated, “The order dated April 19, 2020, from Home Ministry addressed to Chief Secretary also reached just 30 minutes before the teams arrived. While I appreciate the pro-activeness shown by the Central government in sending their teams to West Bengal, the same was done without prior intimation and hence is a breach of established protocol.”
In fact, the IMCT in West Bengal was kept waiting for 30 hours after it reached Kolkata on Monday, it was allowed to make an on-ground assessment by the Mamata Banerjee government only after the Union Home Ministry sent a letter to the state government directing it to make all necessary arrangements.
Certainly, not everything looks in place as far as the Coronavirus situation in West Bengal is concerned. The way the Mamata Banerjee regime has been opposing the IMCT only adds up to the allegations of a major cover-up in the state.
The handling of the Pandemic has anyway been below par with even the Union Ministry of Home Affairs taking note of frequent lockdown violations in the state. With West Bengal Assembly elections due for next year, it seems that a lot might be actively getting buried under the carpet in the TMC-ruled state.