After much back and forth between the West Bengal government and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the former permitted the Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCT) sent by MHA to conduct a field visit of the COVID-19 hotspot districts of Kolkata and Jalpaiguri with the state police and pilot cars of the Border Security Force accompanying the ICMT.
However, the West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha has written to MHA on Tuesday about his apprehensions over sending the teams without prior intimations to the state government that led to a lack of prior arrangements and logistic support for the teams.
IMCT had arrived without any prior consultation with us and, therefore, there was neither such opportunity to provide any logistic support as envisaged in the order dated 19th April 2020 nor the team asked for any help: WB Chief Secy to Union Home Secy, in a letter dated April 21 pic.twitter.com/vHNuD1gEBD— ANI (@ANI) April 22, 2020
This comes after the leader of one of the central teams visiting West Bengal, Apurva Chandra, stated that the teams were not receiving cooperation from the West Bengal government; moreover, the Central Government had reiterated the IMCT's claim as Home Ministry Joint Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava said IMCT was sent to three states namely Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. While the other states extended support to the teams, West Bengal maintained a rigid stand, she added.
We welcome all constructive support & suggestions, especially from the Central Govt in negating the #Covid19 crisis. However, the basis on which Centre is proposing to deploy IMCTs in select districts across India including few in WB under Disaster Mgmt Act 2005 is unclear.(1/2)— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) April 20, 2020
I urge both Honb’le Prime Minister @NarendraModi Ji & Home Minister @AmitShah Ji to share the criterion used for this. Until then I am afraid, we would not be able to move ahead on this as without valid reasons this might not be consistent with the spirit of federalism. (2/2)— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) April 20, 2020
Apurva Chandra who is also the Director-General (Acquisition) and Additional Secretary in Defence Ministry, said that other teams visiting Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are getting the full support of the respective state governments whereas they were given the same notice as West Bengal. A total of six inter-ministerial central teams have been deputed to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal to review the implementation of lockdown measures.
The Centre and West Bengal government are at loggerheads over a range of Covid-related issues, with the Governor going toe-to-toe with the CM almost on a daily basis lamenting her refusal to allow Central Covid relief schemes, while the Centre has also written multiple letters to the state on similar grounds.