Amid severe criticism from opposition leaders, including those from the BJP, and several other sections of society over the state government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and related issues, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday assured everyone of all kinds of assistance, including distribution of ration during the lockdown.
She also appealed to BJP leaders to get in touch with her if they have any symptoms of the virus and promised to provide adequate help.
While announcing a few relaxations in green zones, which have no coronavirus cases, from May 4, Banerjee said experts are of the opinion that restrictions should continue in Bengal till the end of May.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Banerjee urged opposition leaders to not politicise the issue. “This is not an election time. This is the battle that we have to fight jointly. I would like to appeal BJP leaders, if they have any COVID-19 symptom, please contact me. I will provide all necessary help. Other than health-related assistance, we will also provide ration, if anyone requires it. We are here to help,” she said.
Regarding easing of lockdown measures in some areas, she said the state government is awaiting a clarification from the Centre about opening of shops.
“For the time being, we have decided to open standalone shops in every locality which falls under green zones. Some factories, including jute mills, will also be allowed to open from Monday with proper guidelines in the green zones,” Banerjee said.
Privates buses will also allowed to operate with maximum 20 passengers to maintain social distancing. However, these buses will not be allowed to make inter-district travel.
“There will be strict instruction for them. We will run it on a trial basis, if successful we will continue it, else we will withdraw the approval order. Few private taxis will also be allowed to operate in green zones,” the CM said.
However, there would be no relaxation in containment zones, and the administration will ensure strict enforcement of guidelines.
Banerjee, who also leads the ruling Trinamool Congress, finally urged her critics to join hands with the state government in fighting this virus.
“I urge all those who are maligning us through social media posts, please come forward and help us clean the city. Help us boost the morale of health workers, policemen and other frontline warrior,” Banerjee said.
She also refuted reports that the state doesn’t have COVID-19-designated beds. “This is false and misleading information. We have 790 beds in hospitals dedicated to coronavirus. We have tied up with 51 private hospitals in Bengal for virus treatment. So there is no need to worry that we don’t have adequate infrastructure to deal with the crisis,” she added.