Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention on Wednesday in the alleged “whimsical” functioning of the railways in sending Shramik Special trains to West Bengal daily and urged the BJP-led central government not to pursue politics when the state is battling the dual crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and the trail of destruction left behind by Cyclone Amphan.
The state’s infrastructure is “stretched to its limit” following the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan, she said, adding that West Bengal can receive very few trains carrying migrant workers on a daily basis as of now.
The state considers the ferrying of a large number of migrant workers by the railways as a big problem for public health. The pressure should be “optimal and well managed”, Banerjee said.
“The state government is facing a dual crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan. Our infrastructure is completely stretched. The railways is sending Shramik Special trains to the state every day according to its whims and fancies, without even bothering to inform us,” she said.
“Where will we keep these migrant labourers for institutional quarantine? This is not the time for politics. We are facing a very tough situation and we need time and space to tackle it,” the chief minister said, ahead of the slated arrival of 11 Shramik Special trains to the state in the evening.
“They (BJP) can disturb me politically, but why are they causing harm to the state? West Bengal is facing such a major disaster. It will lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Who will take the responsibility then?
“I request the prime minister and home minister to look into the matter. The prime minister should intervene,” the feisty Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo said.
The TMC government has asked the railway ministry not to send Shramik Special trains to the state till May 26 in view of the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan.
Those returning from the coronavirus hotspot states of Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu will have to go for a 14-day institutional quarantine, Banerjee said.