Chief minister Mamata Banerjee confirmed that she will participate in the meeting of Opposition leaders on Friday at 3:00 pm called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Meanwhile, the Bengal government announced dates for the Class 12 board exams that had been postponed in light of the pandemic.
Bengal also braces for Cyclone Amphan that will make landfall in Sunderbans on Wednesday afternoon.
1,637 fresh cases
With 136 fresh cases reported on Tuesday, the number of active cases in West Bengal rose to 1,637.
Of the six people who died of Covid-19 in the state, four were reported from Kolkata and one each from South 24 Parganas and Hooghly district.
While the state put the death toll at 178, without counting the deaths of 72 coronavirus positive patients who had co-morbidities, but the union health ministry out the death toll at 250.
The government bulletin said that 68 people had been discharged and the total number of recovered patients in the state was at 1,074.
The total number of cases reported from the state was at 2,961.
Over 1 lakh tests
The bulletin showed that with 8,712 samples tested on Tuesday, the state had carried out 1,02,282 tests, which was 1,136 tests per million people.
If these numbers are to be believed, West Bengal has a positivity rate of 2.89% compared to 4% across the nation.
The bulletin also said that the state had a discharge rate of 36.27%.
Chief minister Banerjee confirmed on Tuesday that she will be attending the meeting of “like-minded” Opposition parties called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss solutions for the plight of migrants in the country who have been adversely affected because of the lockdown.
The Indian Express quoted Banerjee as saying, “Yes, there will be a meeting of opposition parties on Friday evening through videoconferencing to discuss the present Covid-19 situation and the lockdown impact. I will be there.”
The BJP in Bengal has repeatedly criticised the TMC government in the state for not doing enough for migrant workers from the state. The comments have come at a time when the Central government’s decision for a sudden lockdown meant that lakhs of migrants across the country were rendered jobless and had to take arduous journeys back to their home states — sometimes walking thousands of kilometres — because of the lack of transport.
Migrant trains to Bengal, Odisha cancelled
PTI reported that because of cyclone Amphan, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday announced that three Shramik Special trains for West Bengal and Odisha were cancelled.
The report said that these trains were to carry migrant workers to West Bengal and Odisha — the two states that will be affected by the cyclone.
Parag Jain, secretary in the Maharashtra’s social justice department was quoted by PTI as saying, “It was planned to send one train to West Bengal and two trains to coastal Odisha but as we learned about the severity of tropical cyclone Amphan, it was decided to cancel these trains.”
Each Shramik train carries on an average 1,500 to 1,600 passengers. However, we have now appealed to labourers not to rush to any train stations,” he said.
Further announcement regarding running these trains will be taken after assessing the weather and other necessary conditions, Jain said.
Bengal Imams Association asks people to stay home for Eid
While thousands of people gather in mosques across the country to offer prayers of Eid-ul-Fitr each year, this year is likely to be different. Amid fears of the pandemic, congregations at all places of religious worship have been forbidden.
Given the situation, chairman of the Bengal Imams Association Md Yahia asked people to offer Eid prayers at home.
PTI quoted Md Yahia as saying, “The community had never faced such a situation during Ramzan in the past but a redeeming feature of the COVID-19 induced lockdown is that it has enabled women members of families to offer prayers at home along with men.”
He said, “Remember that your wife, daughter, sister can offer prayers along with you. Isn’t that a welcome development?”
Meanwhile a spokesman of the Nakhoda Masjid, one of the prominent mosques of Kolkata, was quoted by PTI as saying there won’t be any gathering for Eid prayers and everyone had been asked to pray at home with their families.
Higher secondary board exam dates announced
West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee announced on Tuesday the dates of the postponed examinations for the class 12 state boards.
The exams, which couldn’t be held on the scheduled dates due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown, will be conducted on June 29, July 2 and July 6, Chatterjee was quoted by PTI as saying.
The minister said all safety precautions regarding COVID-19, including social distancing norms, will be ensured during the exams.
While the higher secondary examinations for most of the subjects were conducted from March 13 to 21, examinations for some papers scheduled on March 23, March 25 and March 27 had to postponed.
Examinations for the papers that were postponed are Physics, Nutrition, Education, Accountancy, Chemistry, Economics, Journalism, Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, French, Statistics, Geography, Costing and Taxation, Home Management and Family Resource Management.
Chatterjee said not more than 80-100 candidates will be accommodated in an exam centre.
Examinations will be held in 2,500 centres and over two lakh students will write the papers on each of the three days, he said.
(With PTI inputs)