NEWS
19/05/2020 10:35 AM IST | Updated 19/05/2020 10:38 AM IST

West Bengal Lockdown 4.0 Guidelines Announced; Mamata Says Modi's Economic Package Is 'Nothing'

Inter-district bus services, salons and beauty parlours can resume services from May 21. Hawkers' markets allowed to open from May 27.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
West Bengal  Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in a file photo from February, 2020. 

West Bengal said in its daily bulletin on Monday that six more Covid-19 patients had died and that 148 more people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the state. 

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced lockdown 4.0 guidelines with a slew of relaxations. 

She took on the Narendra Modi government calling its special economic package “oshwodimbo” and “kanchkola” that literally translate to horse eggs and raw bananas. 

While two special trains arrived in Bengal from Bengaluru and Haridwar on Monday, Banerjee said that her government will request for 120 more trains to bring back migrant workers from other states.  

1,575 active cases in Bengal 

West Bengal on Monday put the death in the state at 172, without counting the deaths of 72 Covid-19 patients who had co-morbidities.  

Five of those who died were from Kolkata, while one of them was from the South 24 Parganas. 

The union health ministry put the death toll in Bengal at 244 — counting the deaths of those who had co-morbidities.  

The bulletin said that 148 new Covid-19 cases were reported in the state — 61 in Kolkata, 28 in Howrah, 26 in North 24 Parganas, 10 in South 24 Parganas, nine in Malda, four in Birbhum, two each in Nadia and North Dinajpur districts, and one each in West Burdwan, East Burdwan and East Medinipur. 

The state government said in its bulletin that at least 47 people were discharged from different hospitals in the state in the last 24 hours taking the number of active cases to 1,575. 

The government said that 1,006 people had recovered so far. 

Lockdown 4.0 guidelines

The Mamata Banerjee in Bengal announced on Monday that the state would extend the lockdown till May 3, but would not impose night curfew as imposed by the Centre. 

PTI quoted Banerjee as saying, “We will not officially declare night curfew because people are already under a lot of stress. We don’t want to increase their sufferings. But we will request people not to venture out of their homes between 7 pm and 7 am, or else, the police would take action.”

However, Banerjee said that if police can take action on big gatherings after 7 pm, reported Anandabazar Patrika

The report said that areas in the state would be divided into three categories — a) affected zone, b) buffer zone and c) clean zone. 

Here are the measures of relaxations announced by the state: 

— From May 21, except for containment A areas, small, medium and large offices can open. 

— Offices inside malls can also open from May 21. 

— Private offices can open with 50% capacity from May 21. 

— Inter-district bus services will start on May 21. 

— Street vendors, salon and parlour owners would be allowed to reopen the shops from May 21. NDTV reported that salons and parlours have been asked to maintain social distancing norms, disinfect tools and sanitise premises or risk closure. 

— Sports can also be played from May 21, but without an audience. 

—  Hawkers’ markets can open from May 27. PTI quoted Banerjee as saying, “The home secretary, municipality secretaries and police will come up with a plan before May 27 regarding reopening of hawkers’ markets on the odd-even basis. Social distancing, masks, gloves are compulsory and all the markets will be sanitized.”

— Autorickshaws can also resume operations from May 27, but with no more than two passengers. 

— Restaurants will continue to remain closed.

Nothing in Centre’s package, says Mamata 

Banerjee said on Monday that the measures announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the last four days added up to nothing. 

The Telegraph reported Banerjee calling the Centre’s special economic package “Yet another oshwodimbo (literally means horse egg, translates to zilch).”

The report quoted her as saying, “Four more days, four more big zeroes. Kichhu nai (There is nothing). No rajbhog, no rasogolla, no jilipi (jalebis), only knachkola (green plantain, also commonly used in Bengali to mean ‘nothing’). That is my opinion. Whatever has been said on these things, totaltai mithyey (all lies).”

Banerjee also slammed the BJP in the state for “cheap politics” over migrant labourers. 

“Don’t politicise the issue. I request all states to take care of our people as we are taking care of theirs who are stranded in our state,” PTI quoted her as saying. 

“We want to bring back everyone but cannot do it in a single day. We have a plan in place, let us execute it. We have already requested for 105 trains. Within the next two-three days, we will ask for 120 more trains,” Banerjee said.

BJP slams Mamata’s relaxation measures  

BJP in West Bengal, meanwhile, slammed Banerjee’s relief measures saying it will increase Covid-19 cases in Bengal. 

State BJP president Dilip Ghosh was quoted by PTI as saying on Monday,“The Centre has imposed night curfew across the country from 7 pm to 7 am to restrict movement of people and to ensure proper maintenance of social distancing norms.” 

Ghosh said that Banerjee was creating “a dangerous situation for the people of the state”. 

“She is herself confused and is creating confusion among the people by creating three categories in the restricted zones,” Ghosh claimed.

He said that if hawkers’ markets were opened, they could become hotspots because the shops are located closely.

Meanwhile Gosh denied that migrant workers were walking hundreds of kilometres to their homes for food and shelter, claiming that “had there been a dearth of food, many would have died in this one and half months.”

He claimed that while other states have arranged for hundreds of special trains to take their people back home, the West Bengal government’s response has been lukewarm.

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Two shramik train arrive on Monday, West Bengal to ask for 120 more 

PTI reported that two special trains from Bengaluru and Haridwar arrived in West Bengal on Monday bringing back migrant workers and pilgrims

The Shramik Special from the Karnataka capital reached Malda Town station in Malda district at 5.30 pm carrying hundreds of migrant workers back home, an official told the news agency.

Another special train from Haridwar brought back pilgrims and workers to Krishnanagar in Nadia district who got stuck in Uttarakhand.

All the passengers were subjected to medical screening before being allowed to board buses arranged by the West Bengal government to reach their homes, the PTI report said. 

Banerjee said that the state had already brought back over 2.5 lakh migrant workers from other states and will bring back more people. 

The Telegraph quoted her as saying, “We have already asked for 115 trains, 16 of which have arrived so far. In two-three days, we will ask for 120 more trains. So that in another 15 days, we can start bringing five-six trains, eventually 10 trains — each ferrying 1,600-1,800 — daily. We will speak to the railways and see. Of course, all expenses to be borne by us.”  

Banerjee said that 3.5-4 lakh more people would be brought back. 

(With PTI inputs)