Published On: Sat, Apr 11th, 2020

Mamata extends lockdown in Bengal till April 30

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday declared extension of the lockdown till April 30, soon after a video-conference Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with CMs of different states where a broad consensus emerged about expanding the duration of the shutdown amid spurting COVID-19 cases.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

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 June 10, she added.

The Trinamool Congress supremo said 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 unorganised and MSME sectors, she said.

“The PM, during the video-conference, said the lockdown will be extended till April 30. 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.

“Till April 30, the lockdown would continue in Bengal, too. We will again review the situation at the end of April,” Banerjee told reporters here.

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.

Banerjee said she urged the central government to ensure strict vigil in the border areas, so that no one is able to sneak 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 a Rs 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 divulge the details of the “sensitive and micro-planning areas”. On Tuesday, she had said her government identified seven COVID-19 hotspots 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 adhere 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 per cent 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.

PTI

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