04/05/2020 1:11 PM IST

West Bengal Govt Yet To Announce Relaxations For Green, Orange Zones; Migrant Workers Begin Journey Home

The West Bengal government said that the death toll was at 50, even as the Modi government is to deploy a team in Kolkata.

NurPhoto via Getty Images
A deserted street during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Kolkata, India , 03 May, 2020. 

The death toll in West Bengal, according to official statements from the government, rose to 50 on Sunday with two more deaths. 

The government said that 41 fresh cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state. 

PTI reported that till Sunday afternoon there were 927 coronavirus cases in West Bengal, with 663 active cases. 

Meanwhile, the Centre is sending yet another team to Kolkata that will be deployed there. 

In a relief for migrant workers, 2,500 will begin their journey from Rajasthan and Kerala today.

Centre concerned about Kolkata

Reports suggest, that after the initial visit by a central team, the Union government is concerned about 20 districts across India and Kolkata is one of them. 

A press release from the Union health ministry said, “As many as twenty (20) Central Public Health Teams from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare have been formed and are being sent to the 20 districts that are reporting the maximum number of COVID-19 cases in the country.” 

The release said these teams will “support the States in implementation of containment measures for COVID-19 in the affected areas within these districts/cities. The teams shall assist the State Governments.” 

So far, teams being sent by the Modi government has not gone down well with chief minister Mamata Banerjee who has harshly criticised the move. 

The previous teams were made to wait for two days in Bengal when they had arrived last month.  

Anandabazar Patrika reported that head of All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health Madhumita Dobe and public health expert Leena Bandyopadhyay are part of the team that will be deployed in West Bengal.  

Some of the other districts include Delhi (South East), Delhi (Central), Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Agra and Lucknow.  

No official decision on green, orange zones

As lockdown 3.0 began on Monday, the West Bengal has not yet decided on the relaxations in the green and orange zones.

PTI reported that chief secretary Rajiva Sinha will lead a task force that will take decisions on what shops can be allowed to open. 

While most shops, apart from those for essentials remained shut, alcohol shops were allowed to reopen on Monday. 

“We are waiting for the state government notification before deciding on opening business establishments,” Confederation of West Bengal Trade Unions president Sushil Poddar told PTI. 

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had last week announced a few relaxations and allowed intra-district plying of buses in green and orange zones, with a maximum of 20 passengers in each vehicle.

She had said that from May 4, restrictions will be eased in green and orange zones where stand-alone shops of non-essential items will be opened.

“But there will be no relaxation for containment areas. The relaxation applies only to stand-alone shops and home delivery of non-essential items, not for market complexes or shopping malls,” she said.

Bus operators, however, refused to commence services stating it would be economically unviable for them to run vehicles with only 20 passengers.

Associations of bus operators had earlier said either the state government should give them subsidies for running the buses or it may requisition the vehicles for plying these on different routes.

Meanwhile, liquor outlets have been allowed to reopen only in the green zones in the state from Monday, an official said.

All liquor shops in the state have been shut since March 25 when the nationwide lockdown was imposed.

The state government has not allowed reopening of liquor outlets in the red zones and is still undecided on those in the orange ones, officials said.

Bengal has four red zones — Kolkata, Howrah, North 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur districts. The orange zones are South 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Paschim Medinipur, Purba Bardhaman, Paschim Bardhaman, Kalimpong, Nadia, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Murshidabad and Malda.

The eight districts in the green zone are Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, Uttar Dinajpur, Dakhin Dinajpur, Birbhum, Bankura, Purulia and Jhargram.

Trains for migrant workers

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Sunday that more than 2,500 migrant workers from Rajasthan and Kerala will begin their journey back home on Monday in two special trains.

She took to Twitter and said, “As a part of our promise to bring back citizens of Bengal stranded in other states, 2 special trains from Ajmer & Kerala would leave tomorrow for West Bengal carrying more than 2500 migrant labourers, pilgrims, students & patients. Everyone coming in to be screened as per protocols.” 

About 1,200 of these workers will be coming from Ajmer. 

NDTV reported that the train will reach Bengal on May 5 and stop at Durgapur, going through Asansol. 

The West Bengal government had also requested for a stop at Dankuni. 

The train from Kerala will begin at Thiruvananthapuram, The Times of India reported, but said that there was no confirmation on where this train will stop. 

“Some confusion remains regarding the train from Thiruvananthapuram. On Friday, the Kerala government wrote to West Bengal about a special train for labourers stuck there. On Sunday, the West Bengal government wrote back, seeking details about the labourers planning to return. As per central guidelines, all such passengers have to be identified by the originating and home state governments. State governments will have the responsibility of screening passengers, picking them up from wherever they stay and transporting them to their homes,” a senior official was quoted by the report as saying. 

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