The Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) was blocked by West Bengal government from carrying out their duty of assessing COVID-19 risk zones in the state, said IMCT leader Apurva Chandra. This comes after CM Mamata Banerjee did not permit the Centre's inter-ministerial central (IMC) team deployed to several districts in India to function in West Bengal. She claimed that till PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah share the criterion for such an intervention, she will not comply as this goes again federalism. West Bengal has reported 339 COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths.
"We came here yesterday morning and since then we have been asking the state government to provide us logistic support and now it has been more than one day and we have only visited Nabanna and NICED. These are the only two places we have visited," Chandra told ANI.
The IMCTs comprise of officers from various departments, including the NDMA, public health specialists from the Department of Health and Consumer Affairs. The teams have been fanned out to various states to contain the spread of COVID-19 but are faced with roadblocks in West Bengal.
"IMCT teams have gone to other states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan, there they are getting the full support of state governments. They were given the same notice as West Bengal but they have faced no problems since yesterday," Chandra added.
The Union Home Ministry-constituted IMCTs are crucial bodies, which visit coronavirus hotspots for assessment, issue directions to combat the spread of the lethal virus in those areas and submit a report to the central government.
On April 20, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has set up six inter-ministerial central teams to assess lockdown violations and implementations in West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. “Situation especially serious in Indore (MP); Mumbai & Pune (Maharashtra); Jaipur (Rajasthan); and Kolkata, Howrah, Medinipur East, 24 Parganas North, Darjeeling, Kalimpong & Jalpaiguri (West Bengal),” the home ministry spokesperson said. The team will on-spot assessment of the situation, issue necessary directions and submit their report to Central Government.
The state has seen several lockdown violations for the past two weeks - notably in Murshidabad and Hooghly were several people gathered at a mosque to offer Friday prayers. Though police had dispersed the crowd immediately, CM Mamata Banerjee has taken cognizance of the repeated violations in that district and has directed the Murshidabad DIG to stop such gatherings. The MHA too has written to Banerjee highlighting that the lockdown guidelines were being violated in several parts of the state, stating that the West Bengal government had allowed more exemptions leading to a gradual dilution of the lockdown.