Central teams carry on with Covid-19 survey in Bengal

Central teams carry on with Covid-19 survey in Bengal
Two inter-ministerial central teams — one in south Bengal and the other in the north of the state — continued with their visits, mostly to markets and containment zones in Calcutta and Howrah and tea gardens on the outskirts of Siliguri on Sunday.
The Mamata Banerjee government is displeased with the teams sent by the Union home ministry.
“Look at the performance of the teams... The team stationed in Calcutta has sent four letters to the government asking an entire gamut of clarifications while the Siliguri one sought replies to 36-odd questions in a communication on Saturday. Are we appearing in an examination?” asked a senior bureaucrat.
“The question is: who are they to assess our performance in a federal structure like ours?” added the bureaucrat.
 
In their communications to the chief secretary, the teams have raised issues like the reason of forming an audit committee to assess the actual cause of death for a Covid positive patient, lack of ventilators, chaotic situation in M. R. Bangur Hospital and delay in getting test results for the suspects kept at the isolation wards.
As most of these issues have also been flagged by the propaganda machinery of the BJP.
“It’s true that everything is not perfect... But the teams’ approach is as if they have come with the mandate from someone in Delhi to discredit Bengal government,” said a source close to Mamata.
According to him, the ruling party in Bengal is not averse to fight a political battle with the BJP.
Amid the murmurs on what the teams are up to, a section of officers is discussing whether the visit or the identification of “apparent loopholes” will contribute anything to the state’s battle against the pandemic. “Will they take over the administration of the state?” asked an officer.
According to the officer, the teams were mostly sending questions and asking for documents which kept bureaucrats busy in clerical report submission mode. “We are used to handle such questions during elections. But this is an unusual situation and the battle is not about preparing reports,” said a senior government official.
Sources said chief secretary Rajiva Sinha had already held two meetings with the team in south Bengal and held discussions over telephone with the team in north Bengal.
Several officials also raised questions on how the letters sent to the chief secretary by the IMCTs were going viral on social media within a few minutes of them reaching Nabanna. “This is unusual as communications between two officers are not to be made to public. There is definitely a design,” said another official.
However, a section of bureaucrats felt that the state government should have used the opportunity to put pressure on the centre by placing demands before the team instead of antagonising the officers with non-co-operation.
“The chief minister of Rajasthan held a video conference with the IMCT that visited Jaipur for two hours to make it clear what he wanted from centre. Similarly, the chief secretary in Maharastra also held a series of meetings with the team to place demands... But Bengal apparently could not use the opportunity. It could have cooperated with the team after registering its reservations over the way the teams were sent,” said a bureaucrat.
Another official said it would be unjustified to say the team in south Bengal did not do anything here.
“They raised some valid questions. The state government was forced to initiate action after the questions were raised. A special officer was appointed yesterday to look after the affairs in M. R. Bangur hospital after the team had drawn attention regarding the pathetic state of the dedicated Covid hospital in Calcutta. The government was forced to reveal the actual number of deaths of Covid-19 patients, which they were hiding before,” said the official.

https://www.telegraphindia.com
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Two inter-ministerial central teams — one in south Bengal and the other in the north of the state — continued with their visits, mostly to markets and containment zones in Calcutta and Howrah and tea gardens on the outskirts of Siliguri

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