Mamata opens up home delivery of non-essential goods in Bengal

Published : April 27, 2020 20:57 IST

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

After more than a month of lockdown, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has allowed home delivery of non-essential items in the State. The Union Home Ministry on April 19 prohibited e-commerce companies from selling non-essential items during the lockdown while allowing them to sell essentials.

Announcing her decision on April 27 at a press conference, Mamata said, “By and large the people of the State have so far not faced any problems in getting essential commodities. There are many non-essential goods that people need, but have not been able to get for the last one month. From today onwards we are allowing home delivery of non-essential goods as well. One can get whatever one needs by ordering on the phone, buying online, or using whatever mechanisms one uses.” She said until there is further clarity on the Centre’s decision regarding the lockdown, such method of business will continue in the State.

Mamata, who had attended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Chief Ministers earlier in the day, felt that the Centre’s directives on the issue of the nationwide lockdown lacked clarity. “On the one hand we are told that we must be very strict in enforcing the lockdown and on the other hand all shops will be allowed to be open… If we open all the shops, we cannot tell the people to not go shopping. If people start going out shopping, then there will be crowding on the streets, and if that happens then the lockdown will be futile. So, what do we do? …You cannot have a lockdown, and at the same time, have all the shops open,” said Mamata. She said she has asked State Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha to get a clarification from the Cabinet Secretary.

Mamata urged the Centre to put at least Rs.10,000 in the bank accounts of those working in the unorganised sector to provide them with some relief in the lockdown period. “What will the poor people eat? You have to contain the spread of COVID-19, but people also have to eat. Just by creating a fear about the disease… and shutting the voices of people you can only cause psychological problems,” she said.

Mamata also announced the establishment of a Cabinet Committee on COVID Management to be headed by Finance Minister Amit Mitra. The following are the other members of the committee: Minister of School Education and Parliamentary Affairs Partha Chatterjee, Minister of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs and the Mayor of Kolkata Firhad Hakim, Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare and Housing Chandrima Bhattacharya, the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Health Secretary, along with a coordinator who will liaise with the different departments. “I also have a lot of other things to look into…. Just taking care of COVID is not enough. Soon there will be dengue, malaria…. If we concentrate only on one thing, the other areas will suffer. For that reason, I have set up a Cabinet Committee on COVID Management,” said Mamata. As of April 27, the “official” death toll due to COVID-19 in the State is 20, with 504 “active” cases.


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