Enamul Hafiz Latifee reports,
The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday, 11 April 2020 declared extension of the lockdown till 30 April 2020, soon after a video conference Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with Chief Ministers of different states where a consensus reached for extending the period of the shutdown amid COVID-19 outbreak.
Banerjee said the Prime Minister noted that the next two weeks were going to be “crucial and critical” in the fight against COVID-19. All schools and colleges in West Bengal will remain closed till 10 June 2020, she added.
The Trinamool Congress supreme leader, Banerjee said that she raised the issue of a financial package for the state and clearing its dues. The Centre should also bring in a special package for the unorganized and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sectors, she said.
“The PM, during the video-conference, said the lockdown will be extended till 30 April 2020. We have already said that we will support whatever decision the Centre takes in this regard. The PM also said the next two weeks are going to be very crucial and critical”, she added.
“Till 30 April 2020, the lockdown would continue in Bengal, too. We will again review the situation at the end of April,” Banerjee told the media.
On the Union Home Ministry’s communication to the state’s DGP and Chief Secretary, objecting to what it called was a “gradual dilution” of the lockdown in West Bengal where shops selling non-essential goods were allowed to open and police giving permission for religious gatherings, Banerjee said the Centre has asked her government to keep a watch on some specific areas.
Mamata Banerjee said she urged the central government to ensure strict vigil in the border areas, so that no one is able to slip in during this period.
“We have sought a financial package from the PM to tackle the outbreak in the state… We asked the Centre to announce an INR 10-lakh crore package for the states,” the Chief Minister said.
Banerjee also said she spoke to the Prime Minister about a few central ministers and a section of people spreading “canards and fake news” about the state.
Asked about the steps taken to deal with COVID-19 hotspots in West Bengal, she said there are “no hotspots” but “micro-planning areas” where proper measures are being undertaken. “We have identified some sensitive spots while drawing a map, which was prepared by our COVID-19 task force. We will see to it that the lockdown is totally imposed in those areas. It does not mean that we will shut down grocery shops, doctors’ chambers… or nobody will be allowed to go to the market… gatherings won’t be allowed,” Banerjee said.
The Chief Minister, however, refused to reveal the details of the “sensitive and micro-planning areas”.
On Tuesday, 07 April 2020, she had said her government identified seven COVID-19 sensitive pots in the state and it was taking necessary measures to break the cycle of transmission.
She said the state government has decided to grant relaxation to some sectors, but everybody has to stick to the norms and regulations laid down by the Health Department. “We are thinking of allowing bakeries to function… In the tea gardens also, we had earlier allowed 15 percent workforce but tea garden owners are keen on 25 percent workforce, which we are considering,” she said.
Markets and essential services shops in West Bengal will now remain open from 10 AM to 6 PM in order to avoid crowding, she said.