The Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal has written to the Centre to stop sending trains from at least five coronavirus ‘hotspot’ states, which have registered the highest number of Covid-19 cases in India.
The Bengal chief minister has also urged the Union government to stop sending domestic flights from these five states. Flights from other states can be allowed once a week, she said.
Uncertainty now looms over the resumption of Kolkata Metro services with metro authorities saying that they would need the nod of three union ministries – rail, health and home – before services could begin again.
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“The chief secretary has sent a letter requesting to stop trains from five states with immediate effect at least for some time now,” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat without naming the five states.
A senior official said the states are Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh. Earlier, migrant labourers who returned from these states were also sent to institutional quarantine.
“We would also request to restrict the number of incoming domestic flights from other states to one per week, instead of allowing several flights a day. It would be easier to manage,” she added.
Banerjee had earlier raised objections against international flights too. Even though the union government has suspended commercial international flights till July 15, domestic flights and trains continue to operate.
The chief minister had said on Friday that the state government had requested the Kolkata Metro to resume services from July 1.
“Metro and suburban train services have been suspended till August 12. We will need the nod of the rail ministry, home ministry and health ministry to restart metro services,” said a spokesperson of the Kolkata Metro.
On Monday, senior officials of the Kolkata Metro held a meeting with the state government.
“The Kolkata Metro will resume essential services for now which can be availed by doctors, police and other frontline staff. The chief secretary will speak to the railway board chairman so that normal services could start soon,” Banerjee added.
The state government will also launch tele-medicine services from July 1 to enable patients to consult doctors for medical help over telephone instead of visiting hospitals or clinics. Each district will have dedicated telephone lines.
She added that the government will procure 30 million face masks, which would be distributed among school students and frontline health workers among others.