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Covid-19 lockdown: West Bengal govt mulls allowing relaxations in red zones

The move is a departure from the state government's stand of maintaining stricter rules than Central suggestions and protocols

Mamata Banerjee | West Bengal government | Coronavirus

Avishek Rakshit  |  Kolkata 

Mamata Banerjee is facing intense opposition from not only the BJP and the Left, but also the governor
Mamata also asked the local administrations to step up construction activities in villages as well as rural areas.

West Bengal is mulling the idea to offer further relaxations even in red zones, which hitherto have been under severe restrictions.

A plan is being formulated whereby red zones in the state will be classified into three groups – A, B, and C. In group A red zones, complete will be observed, while in group B zones some relaxations, including opening of shops and logistics will be permitted. Group C zones will be those areas which are outside containment zones and will be eligible for more relaxations.

The state’s Chief Minister said, “It seems that the Covid-19 situation will go on for sometime and we will have to learn to live with it. I have given the police three days’ time to come up with the classification of red zones, the measures which needs to be taken, and what all can be allowed there”.

Although the Centre had permitted a large number of activities in red zones including movement, offices, e-commerce and others, West Bengal had adopted a stricter approach, with the local administration not allowing opening of private offices.

The move is a departure from the state government’s stand of maintaining stricter rules than Central suggestions and protocols.

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Private and public buses and cab aggregators have been allowed. Shops selling jewellery, sweetmeats, essential and non-essential items including electrical appliances, electronics, paints and others have also been allowed to operate from 12 noon till 6 pm. Relaxations have also been given to the entertainment industry for editing, dubbing and mixing activities. However, film and television shooting is still prohibited.

Mamata also asked the local administrations to step up construction activities in villages as well as rural areas irrespective of zones and also instructed them to arrange for passes and logistics.

Following the exodus of migrant labourers, pilgrims, tourists and students from the state, Banerjee said plans are afoot to run another 100 trains in a phased manner. However, the migration is resulting in more cases being registered in the state.

There have been instances of Covid-19 cases in Birbhum, Malda, Murshidabad and Uttar Dinajpur which hitherto were either free of the pandemic or had contained it.

Apart from attacking the BJP, Banerjee also took a dig at the Centre for not supporting the state financially and reiterated her demand of Rs. 52,972 crores pending from the Centre.

Attacking the saffron party for spreading communal provocation, Banerjee said, “State elections are still a year away. Why are you getting impatient and doing politics now? There is enough time left for that”.

The BJP has been repeatedly attacking Banerjee over the Covid-19 situation in the state with allegations of mis-reporting data, corruption in the rationing system and others.

Banerjee dared the BJP to take to the streets to help people instead of sitting at home and passing political commentary.

“When the Babri Masjid riots took place, it was me only who took to the streets appealing people to maintain peace and harmony. Instead of sitting at home and making comments, why don’t you come out to the streets and help in efforts to fight Covid-19”, Banerjee said.

Banerjee said there needs to be a 3-month short term plan to fight the pandemic as well as mid-term and long-term plans also needs to be formulated.

First Published: Tue, May 12 2020. 19:02 IST