WB: Central teams tour parts of Kolkata, Howrah, Siliguri to inspect lockdown situation

Kolkata/Siliguri, Apr 26 (PTI) The inter-ministerial central teams visiting West Bengal to take stock of situation relating to COVID-19, toured several areas of Kolkata and Siliguri on Sunday to inspect if lockdown restrictions were being followed.

The team stationed in Kolkata, which is led by a senior bureaucrat in the Ministry of Defence Apurba Chandra, visited Garden Reach, Ekbalpur, Khidderpore, Mominpur, Chetla and Kalighat areas in the south and southwestern parts of the city. They were escorted by Kolkata Police personnel.

They went around in a convoy and did not interact with anyone, including the press. The team also inspected certain pockets of neighbouring Howrah district, such as Salkia and Golabari to see for themselves enforcement of the lockdown.

Chandra and his team stopped and did video recording of people buying essential commodities at a crowded market in Khidderpore area but did not reply to questions of reporters.

In Siliguri, the central team led by senior official Vineet Joshi visited Bidhan Market and some other adjoining areas and interacted with shopkeepers and locals. The team enquired if the people were wearing masks and using sanitisers.

'It seems some people are not taking the lockdown seriously. They should,' Joshi later told reporters.

He said the state has to enforce lockdown the norms strictly.

Joshi's team members said they did not see any representative from the state government during the visit, but refused to make any comments on it.

Joshi and his team members also went to nearby tea gardens and asked plantation workers if they were receiving ration through the public distribution system (PDS).

They asked the workers to maintain social distancing norms.

There has been a war of words between the West Bengal government and the Centre over the arrival of the two central teams in the state to assess the coronavirus situation.

The teams are in West Bengal for the past couple of days to look into the state's preparedness for tackling the COVID-19 outbreak.

The team, stationed in north Bengal, visited the quarantine centre in Siliguri, the designated COVID-19 hospital and parts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong in the past few days.

The team in Kolkata over the past few days visited a quarantine centre in Rajarhat, M R Bangur Hospital where COVID-19 patients are being treated and some other places in the city and neighbouring Howrah district. PTI SUS RG KJ