Hitting out at the Centre for sending teams to the state to assess the implementation of the ongoing lockdown and its reported violation in some areas, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, asserting that such action was unilateral and not desirable.
She said the two inter-ministerial central teams (IMCTs) did not contact the state government, which was supposed to look after the logistic arrangements on their arrival.
The Centre has said the COVID-19 situation is "especially serious" in Mumbai, Pune, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata and a few other places in West Bengal, and warned that violation of lockdown measures may facilitate the spread of the novel coronavirus further.
In identical orders issued to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan on Sunday, the Union home ministry said there were several incidents of violence against frontline healthcare professionals, complete violation of social-distancing norms and movement of vehicles in urban areas.
While one central team arrived here on Monday, another reached Jalpaiguri district.
Banerjee said the basis on which the Centre proposed to deploy its teams was "unclear", adding, "We would not be able to move ahead on this as without valid reasons, this might not be consistent with the spirit of federalism."
She said these observations of the Centre were "devoid of any facts" and "do not lend credibility" to its claim.
For example, of the districts identified, Kalimpong reported the last incidence of infection on April 2. Similarly, the last incidence of infection reported in Jalpaiguri was on April 4 and in Darjeeling on April 16, Banerjee wrote to Modi.
It showed that the selection of districts and the observations were made unilaterally and it was nothing but a figment of imagination and unfortunate, the chief minister said, adding that her government was proactively enforcing the lockdown measures as notified by the Centre and maintaining a close liaison with the Union ministries concerned.
She also pointed out that West Bengal had announced a lockdown before the Centre did so.
"...and even before the extension of the lockdown, which was called on April 14, the state government had already extended the lockdown till April 30," Banerjee said.
"I am sure you will kindly agree that such unilateral action on the part of the central government is not desirable at all, especially when both the central and state governments are working together relentlessly round the clock to contain the COVID-19 crisis," she added.
The central teams will focus on compliance and implementation of the lockdown measures, supply of essential commodities, social distancing, preparedness of the state's health infrastructure, safety of health professionals and the condition of the relief camps for labourers and poor people, a home ministry spokesperson said.